Alisa Fineman

Closing the Distance: Poems, Prayers and Love Songs

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There's no doubting the talent Alisa Fineman's assembled for this release: Alex de Grassi and Michael Manring are just two of the names helping her out. Their skill and style ensure strong arrangements and a marvelously polished sound. But it also removes all the rawness and grit, giving an evenness to everything, with carefully overlaid layers of vocals and everything just so on this set of mostly traditional Jewish material. Fineman herself is a good singer who knows how to use her voice to great effect, singing in Hebrew, Ladino, and Arabic. The musicians, meanwhile, are eminently tasteful, never overplaying, and leaving plenty of air on the songs. In other words, it's impossible to fault, and it is a good album. But at times it simply seems too polite and lacking in the fire and passion that brings music alive.

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