When I was asked to do a review of Sheya Hanstater’s latest release Ahavti Eschem, I wondered why me? I’m hardly a music maven. I cannot analyse an allegro from an adagio and I cannot differentiate a flat from a forte. My entire musical appreciation is garnered from the melodic accompaniments I enjoy during my daily walks. But then when I listened to the album I finally understood. This album was not created to impress the aficionados; this album was written, composed, and arranged to affect and arouse the everyman.
As I listened I found myself awash with feelings of nostalgia as the mellifluous notes transported me to the melodic sounds of the past. A time when a tune was composed to stir the soul and when music was orchestrated to rouse the spirits. When a beat didn’t simply throb through the ear but thrummed into the heart.
Ahavti Eschem is a rich compilation of songs, melodies, and musical expression. The album comprises a wedding theme interspersed with euphonic ballads and ambient harmonies. The opening refrains of “Mi Bon Siach” arouse a poignant sentimentality that convey the mixed emotions of elation and solemnity of watching one’s child take their first steps towards building a new home.
The “Chasuneh Medley,” which includes typical wedding lyrics such as “Od Yishoma,” and “Nugilo,” rouses a sense of jubilation as is befitting a Heimish and Chassidish simcha to inspire exhilarating celebration with a Yiddishe taam.
The title song of Ahavti Eschem is a beautiful lyrical dialogue which expresses the deep love between Hashem and His children. It would be nigh on impossible not to be spiritually moved by this emotional declaration of Ahavas Hashem.
With his “Tanz” medley, Sheya takes us back to the Chassidic courts of yesteryear when Chassidishe Rebbes composed melodies as a conduit to strengthen the relationship between Klal Yisroel and Hashem. You can almost feel the fervour and Avodas Hashem with each rhythmic note. A reflection of combining the effects of a past age, and the arc of time, with the musical splendour of the modern age.
The closing chorus of Eishes Chayil provides a heartwarming feeling of an end that is just beginning.
Sheya Hanstater is not your typical commercial composer. Each one of his compositions carries the tuneful traditions of Chassidishe heart-warming and inspiring melodies. His releases may be few and far between, but each one is created with the singular goal of stirring the soul.
Each of his five previous releases has promoted one individual headline talent such as Mona Rosenblum or Yermiyah Damen. In this, his sixth offering, Sheya Hanstater showcases an array of talent including the afore-mentioned Yermiyah Damen, Eizik Honig, and Zanvil Weinberger. He also features child prodigies Avrohom Chaim Green and Yoili Gluck.
As well as the international stars, Ahavti Eschem also presents London talents Shmili Steinmetz, Sruli Ginsberg, Mendel Weinstein, Yisroel Chaim Reisman, and Chaim Yeshaya Weil. For the first time Sheya offers these unsung heroes to the world and gives them a voice that will resonate worldwide.
Sheya’s compositions and the multi-talented singers would not be complete without the gifted musical arrangement by Chaim Menachem Hartman. Having produced and arranged multiple albums for the L’Chaim label, Sheya allowed Chaim Menachem free reign to show his full potential, and he does not disappoint. Each instrument, each note, each harmony, has been individually placed for the most concordant effect. With songs like “Hillel” and “Kedai” Chaim Menachem creates an easy listening Chasidishe album with contemporary innovation and a modern twist.
Ahavti Eschem cultivates a sense that one does not need to reach far from one’s surroundings to feel interwoven as part of something bigger.