The start of the album isn’t always indicative of its quality and of what is in it, for better or for worse, but the first sounds from “Passin’ Over” throw you straight into the right place: ongoing high-pitched guitar notes to which a soloist adds the traditional “yaaaaaaaaah”—turn up the volume, they aren’t playing songs for the third Shabbat meal.
Yood is an Israeli classical rock trio: Lazer Lloyd is the soloist and guitarist (he’s played with Matisyahu, Danny Sanderson, and Reva L’Sheva), Yaakov Lefcoe is on bass, and Moshe Yankovsky does amazing work with drums. Beyond the sound of good, old-fashioned rock, the album also shows blues and country influences, and even - going back to 1992 - grunge.
In general, “Passin’ Over” is an excellent album, and it’s undoubtedly one of the best in Jewish music. It’s uncompromising, professional, and has a lot of groove. So just before I finish here with this effusive praise, let me take a moment and focus on its weak points, and we’ll get this over with quickly.
The main problem with Yood is actually with the soloist. Lloyd is a fantastic guitar player, but his voice is not quite strong enough for the trio’s music.
In the more intense sections of the disc, his singing is not sufficiently dominant and you find yourself crying out for the charisma of Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam, or for some real screeching by Chris Cornell of Soundgarden. Aside from that, the album also has two or three songs that are not on the same high level as the others, but that happens even with the best of them. We forgive you.
That feeling inside
Let’s move on. Yood isn’t afraid to make the kind of music they like, even if they’re not doing something new. Their music is generally catchy, sweeping, and swinging. The production is good and the sound is rich.
As religious - actually Hassidic - musicians, the Yood guys convey their credo in words, and in this case it isn’t any different from the original “Ani Ma’amin.” What’s nice is that their songs aren’t sacred religious texts that aren’t subject to additional readings. With most of the songs the words make the listener dig into them and take from them what he wants, and this allows a wider audience to connect with the songs.
Generally that happens the fourth or fifth time you hear a really good song, when you already know when the high point is coming, and the tension fills you and gets inside you, until the catharsis. On Yood’s CD that happened to me twice, and that says it all.