Jacob Levy & Meir Shitrit – When Kids Feel The Music – Album Review
Every so often as a music-reviewer I end up listening to something well-outside of my own personal taste and preference and into an entirely unique experience I might not have otherwise found myself in – and no matter what the result, I’ve always considered that to be not just a good thing, but a great thing. The good fortune of having a life filled with music of all-kinds in terms of genres, styles, skills and sounds is certainly not lost on me – I know that my life is absolutely more fulfilling through being able to reach out for and play the perfect song for what I’m feeling or whatever mood I’m in at any moment. I think it’s important for people to expand their minds this way in exactly the same way that a foodie would want you to try a bite of something of everything spread out on the table; it’s always been my true hope that in listening to what the world has to offer through music that others would join in on the never-ending feast that is the independent music-scene of today and listen to whatever might come their way.
After taking in the new record When Kids Feel The Music and discovering Jacob Levy & Meir Shitrit’s combined effort to broaden the horizon of children’s perspective on music – I think it’s safe to say that these two gentlemen believe in many of the same things I do. With a brand-new record full of different styles, approaches and sounds – they’re bound to capture the attention and wonder that music has to offer…and by sheer proximity of track-to-track listening, also sure to achieve that goal of expanding the musical-mindset to accept more than it’s originally programmed to. I’ve got a LOT of love for an ambitious quest like that…I think what Jacob & Meir are pursuing with their music is truly important.
Enjoyable tunes for all, they’re geared towards kids for sure, but also written and performed professionally – anyone can dig what these guys are up to…and hey, we might learn something in the process! They get into a rockabilly sound as the record opens up with the dream-laden lyrics of “When I Grow Up” as they examine life from the perspective of a child and the limitless possibilities of where their path might take them when they’re adults. Impressive guitars immediately stand-out from Meir’s jazz-inspired solos and brass instruments also make themselves known…good character in the vocals and the record begins with positive energy in abundance.
As far as I know, Meir and Jacob have enlisted several vocalists from high-school age & up to bring their visions to life…and real credit to the beautiful vocals that grace the record’s second track “Animals.” While you can hear in a few spots that the singer is still a young one – you can also hear that the potential more than exists here…she’s a dynamite singer and wonderfully expressive. I loved the added depth in the music of “Animals” – I could get the perception that it’s a bit more ‘serious’ in nature through the atmosphere and mood…but by that same token, this track worked a bit more for me than most – I really thought the writing stood out strongly here. They’ll continue that magic on “Musical Playground” in a completely different, light-reggae vibe…which isn’t normally my thing at all – BUT…I found this melody smoothly winning me over from every angle. The verse is well done and sounded inviting enough to pull me along – and once I got to the chorus I was more than thankful to have taken the ride to get there; THAT my friends…is beautiful. Wonderful harmonies that really sound unified.
Songs like “Heroes” really make me smile. To me…a song like “Heroes” is a really strong example of how Jacob & Meir have gone about making this whole record captivating and the approach one that works. You can hear the spirit of collaboration running through the harmonies and that the genuine interest and WANT to participate and perform is something you can audibly hear. Everyone involved sounds like their giving it their absolute best and I LOVE it! “Heroes” is another really well written tune that finds incredible ways to expand and evolve as it plays, swelling into a massively entertaining track.
Brilliant vocals lead the way on the jazzy-number “Hide & Seek,” with Meir’s guitars borrowing the spotlight for some beautifully-toned solos as both the male & female vocalists give stellar performances on the mic. It’s a wonderfully sweet song inspired by the game we’ve all played and shared in at one point – and…AND…you get like, a vibraphone solo and scat-singing at the end too? Sign me UP! While that might be an example of this collaborative writing with a more focused theme than message – they also quickly follow that up with the positive & inspiring attitude of “Come & Dance.” The verse of “Come & Dance” is extremely strong in the music, performance and message of courage in the lyrics – those were the strongest points; the bridge/chorus had trouble keeping up to the high-standard it sets.
“Home Sweet Home” blends bluegrass & folk in a quickly-paced melody. Loved the middle of this tune…a short but sweet guitar solo was one of the stand-out moments of melody in the music for me on this record. With it not really being a style I’ve always connected with…again, it was awesome for Levy and Shitrit to have found a way to pull me in through cleverly written melodies and stunning harmonies delivered by the vocalists they’ve found. That being said…when I DO hear something that’s more my style like “Friendship” – it was even easier to quickly fall in love with the sound. Another solid job on the microphone…the singing is full of bold & beautiful tone and rhythm…cool electro-elements filling in the music surrounding her voice. Message-wise…you probably couldn’t find a more positive song if you spent the rest of your life listening for one…”Friendship” forms a strong bond with us as listeners.
I liked the idea of “My Birthday” and the twist they put into this tune. Rather than go in the direction that “Friendship” goes with almost over-the-top sweetness, “My Birthday” actually goes a different way entirely as it narrates some of the challenges in the way of enjoying a particular birthday story. But DON’T for a moment think that they’ve missed their calling of spreading the positivity around – because even after the story of everything that stood in the way of “My Birthday” it finds its silver-lining and a way to sound like the celebration will go on exactly as it was scheduled to.
Loved the instrumentation and music of “Let’s Get Along” and the added-innocence you hear in its warm-sound & melody. The vocals as it begins are wonderful – the vocals as it heads towards the two-minute mark are even more bold, bright and fantastic. The wonderful slow-build of this song is magical…and the inviting sound it has in its all-inclusive chorus is an absolute highlight on this entire record. Different vocalists pop-up in & throughout the mix as the song takes on its chorus and MAN – some of those people you can hear breaking through are absolutely AWESOME to listen to! Jacob and Meir have certainly found & collaborated with some impressive talent to bring these songs to life.
They take you into the Blues with “Help Me Please” and instrumentation leading the way with strong performances on the piano, guitar and trumpet lighting up the music from every angle. Big, bold & confident vocals make this a spectacular listening experience in yet another all-new sound & style of music to appear on When Kids Feel The Music. For those that doubt they could enjoy an album geared towards kids, I challenge you direct to listen to this record and tell me you didn’t find something you loved; just as the duo of Jacob & Meir intended, there is absolutely something for everyone here. Songs like “Seasons” show the added depth in the writing in both the lyrics and music, but also their ability to find the right vocalist to provide the perfect sound to realize the potential in the writing. The lead-vocalist on this song sounds like she has the possibilities of a young Amy Lee before her…and the slight leaning of “Seasons” to that opera-inspired rock-style brings out those hints of subtle theatrics in her vocals. For the most part, “Seasons” plays it plenty cool and keeps the atmosphere in a soft-rock sound with sparkling piano notes, authentic & stunning tones on the guitar and a crisp beat.
“My Messy Room” is the track that I needed when I was growing up…this is like…my anthem. Almost sounds like a Robbie Nevil tune from the thickness of the bass alongside the light-hearted pop melody and brightness in the guitars & vocals. Narrating the tale of my life more or less, “My Messy Room” has GOT to be a track that each of us can relate to at one point or another…isn’t it? I think the fact that the song exists is proof enough for me that I can’t be alone in the issues that they bring up within the lyrics – OR the fact that I agree with the song’s ultimate conclusion of ‘just let me be myself!’
With many instruments on display throughout this entire album, they even take a moment to pull out the harmonica right as the final moments of the Country/Folk tune “Night Horse” ends the experience. They finish it off with a tender & gentle melody that accents much of the sweetness we’ve heard throughout this project…and cohesively through their gift for matching elements in the music to the lyrics and themes, this last tune concludes the record decisively like the final moments before you nod off to sleep at the end of the night, safe & sound.
I’d say mission accomplished to Jacob & Meir – they definitely achieved what they sought out to do in bringing variation and versatility to music in effort to open doors and promote its inclusiveness. I’ve enjoyed it immensely myself – and for the record, it’s been a while since anyone labeled me a ‘kid’ – I can personally vouch for the accessibility of the sound & music on When Kids Feel The Music; they had me feelin’ it too, this was a complete pleasure to listen to and expertly put together.
Find out more about the entire project from Jacob Levy and Meir Shitrit at the official page: http://whenkidsfeelthemusic.com/