Leiner’s taken full advantage of the lockdown-inspired creativity and resourcefulness that turned every musician into what he calls an “at-home professional.
There’s plenty of energy to bring home on Simcha Leiner’s new album, HOME — a full and varied collection of original songs in English, Ivrit and Lashon Kodesh — from contemplative and lyrical, to pumping dance tracks. For this fifth album, Simcha is much more than just the singer: He’s been involved in every step, co-composing several of the songs alongside such talent as Yitzy Waldner and Yitzy Berry, and producing together with his new co-producer, keyboardist Shua Sorscher.
This is Leiner’s first post-Covid solo album (his last album was Kol Hakavod in 2019), so he’s taken full advantage of the lockdown-inspired creativity and resourcefulness that turned every musician into what he calls an “at-home professional.” One song, “Olam Hafuch,” was recorded in four different countries — horns in Brazil, keys and vocals in America, strings in Ukraine, and drums in Israel. The song is based on a concept Simcha had been turning over for a while. “My original concept was a song called ‘Birds Eye View,’ about how it’s easier to see patterns when looking down from above. Then, out of the blue, Eli Karmel contacted me with the similar concept of ‘Olam Hafuch.’” The lyrics were polished by Mrs. Ruchie Torgow.
Simcha connected to musicians in Ukraine when he performed in the country (Leiner Live in Odessa was the live album recording of that concert in 2017) and decided to use their orchestra’s string section on the new album. “The arranger of the string sections was from Russia, and the strings were played in Kyiv once the war was already underway,” he relates. “The musicians worked in a fully soundproofed studio several stories underground, which muffled the sound of explosions.”
As a vocalist who also records his own vocals in a home studio, Simcha sees a distinct advantage in musicians working in their own time, and not paying studios by the hour. “There is more interaction and collaboration outside the formality of the studio,” he says. “A musician might record a piece more than once with slightly different effect, or make a suggestion without the pressure of looking at the clock.”
As album production becomes more and more digitalized, Simcha says he actually craves the live musical element. “Digital music often becomes too robotic, too perfect. It has no heart and soul. To me, music needs the heartbeat of humanity and spontaneity. I find myself turning back the clock to the days of live instrumentation, so that even in a modern song like ‘Milema’alah,’ which is primarily digital, we chose to have all the bass and guitars live.”
“Home” is the title track, which Leiner composed after returning to Eretz Yisrael after years of absence. He’s excited that his own sons are singing along with him for the first time, as a small background choir.
Not all the songs are new compositions, though. In fact, the oldest song on the album is “V’einai,” which Simcha originally composed for his wife to walk down to the chuppah, 11 years ago. Its words are a short, moving excerpt from Tefillas HaShlah, from whom he is distantly descended. “I had that song ready to release years ago, but when Yaakov Shwekey released his Tefillas HaShlah song on Musica in 2019, I decided to be patient with it, so it could have its moment.”
(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 920)