Idan Raichel: Piano • Songs

November 20, 2017

Double Exposure

Listening Post 125. Though recognizable by his dreadlocks and turban, Idan Raichel often seemed to hide in plain sight. Concerts of his Idan Raichel Project feature up to 15 artists at a time on stage, no one commanding the spotlight, and the self-effacing maestro—as pianist, composer, lyricist, singer and producer—always at stage right. To date, he’s made six albums with the Project, a rotating assembly representing Israel’s diversity, with artists singing in Amharic and Arabic alongside Hebrew, plus guest performers from Africa, Europe and Latin America. He’s done two albums with the Touré-Raichel Collective, partnering with the Malian guitarist Vieux Farka Touré. His collaborative music has made him an icon of cross-border understanding, but in 2015 Raichel released his first solo album, At the Edge of the Beginning, reflecting the transition to family and parenthood. He started touring without a band, presenting new and old songs stripped to their essence. The stripping was physical as well as musical, dreadlocks and turban giving way to a shaved pate. The changes are manifest on Raichel · Piano · Songs, his voice in Hebrew at once familiar and novel, singing of longing and searching, warmly filling the stage instead of standing at the edge. In this sweeping, live, 36-track musical garden, two recent and two classic songs stand out: In Lifney She’Yigamer (Before It Ends, video 1), he counsels taking risks and seizing life, while in Yored Ha’Erev (Evening Falls, video 2), he contrasts dreams of youth with acceptance of how things turn out. The indelible Mi’Ma’amakim (From the Depths, video 3), inspired by Psalm 130, speaks of love as giving, while Ba’Yeshimon (In the Wilderness, video 4) explores love in a place where no one is watching. Shorn of his locks and the cover of an entourage, Raichel remains as powerful as ever. (Cumbancha/Helicon)


Lifney She’Yigamer/Before It Ends: “From all the moments in time/Finding one to hold on to/To say that we’ve made it/Always remembering to stop for a moment/To be grateful for what we have and where we’ve come from/Holding her at night/When she falls asleep/The world breathes a gentle sigh/Breathing her in deeply/Knowing that forever/I’ll be there for her”


Yored Ha’Erev/Evening Falls: “Evening falls and silently floods/In the windows there’s a faint light/It’s a dark dirt road that leads home/And the barking of the dogs saying hello/I become lost every evening/And I smile to myself when I recall/It doesn’t look at all like what I had in mind”


Mi’Ma’amakim/From the Depths: “From the depths, I called you, come to me/With your return, the light in my eyes will come back/It’s not finished, it won’t leave, the touch in your hands/It will come and brighten, at the sound of your laughter/Who would give his life for yours?/Who would live like dust beneath your feet?/Who would love you more than all others?/Who would save you from an evil wind?”


Ba’Yeshimon/In the Wilderness: “No priest and no prophet/There is one great love which is all ours/To understand the signs/To search for the ways/To continue navigating between difficult questions/Without clear rules/Everyone goes out/Everyone comes back/In the wilderness everyone strays/Into the desert/To this love which is ours.”                                                                



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