by Constance Tucker
Idan Raichel was born in Kfar Saba, Israel. He began to play the accordion at the age of nine. He was attracted to gypsy music and tango and studied jazz piano in high school. Raichel served in the Israel Defense Forces army band at the age of 18, performing covers of Israeli and Western pop hits at military bases around the country. As the musical director of the group, he learned to do arrangements and produce live shows. Following his military service, Raichel worked as a counselor at a boarding school for immigrants. There he met young Ethiopian Jews who took him to Ethiopian bars and clubs in Tel Aviv and introduced him to Ethiopian folk and pop music, including that of Mahmoud Ahmed, Aster Aweke and Gigi.
After working as a backup musician and recording with some of Israel’s most popular singers, Raichel struck out on his own. He began working on a demo recording in Kfar Saba and invited other singers and musicians to collaborate with him to create a new synthesis of sounds and styles. He released two albums locally before signing an international deal. And If You Will Come to Me is Raichel’s eleventh album since 2002. His latest effort includes collaborations with Zehava Ben, Danay Suarez, Berry Sakharof and Bombino.
Raichel’s latest offering is an amalgamation of splendor and finesse, this can be felt deeply on “Ahava Ka’zo,” subtitled (A Love Like This) adorned with an acoustic guitar the words drip from guest artist Zehava Ben’s lips with tender delicacy. The song builds in intensity as Ben continues to vocally build the story’s intensity. The tune is lush and inviting sonically. An exquisitely touching tune.
And If You Will Come to Me is not centric on one international sound. The album espouses a song for every listener on Raichel’s latest offering. A fine example of this is “La Eternidad Que Se Perdió (The Eternity That Was Lost)” feat. Danay Suarez, a decidedly Latin tune that resonates with an effervescence that offers a danceable beat and finely tuned backing vocals that punctuate the tracks uplifting emotive.
Each track on And If You Will Come to Me is a kaleidoscope of inspiring songs, each tune is masterfully crafted for its highest listening pleasure. Raichel shares the spotlight with guest artists that enliven the albums overall sound and outreach a cross pollination of listeners. Highly recommended.