What people are saying about Noah Budin:
“Man, you’re awesome!”
– Joel Lurie Grishaver, Torah Aura Productions, Los Angeles, CA
“You have a gift and the community was privileged to have shared it. Thank you for your words of wisdom, your blessings from the heart, and the beauty of your soul.”
-Lisa Soble Seigman, Director of Jewish Experiences for Families, Agency for Jewish Education, Detroit, MI
“When I want to feel really good about life, I listen to your album.”
Paul Floriano, Actor/Director/Producer, Cleveland/Pittburgh/New York City
“Metaphor” Review by Reverend David Ensign
from his blog “Faithful Agitation” at http://faithfulagitation.blogspot.com/
It’s not often that one gets to witness firsthand an artist come into full flower. Those who have followed the performing and recording career of Noah Budin have experienced this growth and blossom over the decade since the first seeds were sown in his joyous debut CD, Hallelujah Land, in 1997. With the release of Metaphor this spring we hear an artist in full. If all language about God is metaphorical, all of Metaphor is about God. Indeed, at their best, Budin’s songs sound like a deep correspondence between the divine and the ones imprinted with the divine image. Yet Budin manages this without ever sounding in any way traditionally “religious.” This is, indeed, music for those who are deeply spiritual without necessarily being religious.
The disc opens with the powerful percussion of “Metaphor.” The liner notes suggest that the title track emerged from a song-writing workshop whose participants were asked to develop metaphors for God, and the song weaves them together to powerful effect. But the more I listened to the song, the more I began to imagine it as a love letter from the creator to a creation that has forgotten how to recognize the divine in its midst. “I am that I am that I am and will be,” perhaps God sings to us, “but you are everything to me.”
If “Metaphor” is the creator singing to creation, the conversation continues in “Blessing,” a gentle prayer for grace to cover the generations as their circles dance to the divine music of creation. Full disclosure: I know several of the generations of the artist’s family including the spirit-filled youngest daughter who served, in part, as the spark for “Haruach.” That personal relationship has, if anything, left me a less patient listener longing for the fullness of the music to emerge from the promise of Hallelujah Land. It does so in the rich arrangements of Metaphor, and certainly in this song of spirit that highlights the keyboard work of Edward Ridley, Jr. and a fine sax riff from Norm Tischler.
Budin has surrounded himself with excellent musicians throughout this recording, and they are nowhere more evident than on “Let it Burn,” which must be the rockingest Hanukkah song ever recorded. I’ll confess, that as a Protestant pastor I don’t have a deep knowledge of the range of comparable holiday songs, but as one who grew up with the rock soundtrack of America in the 1970s, I promise you that Sam Getz’s screaming guitar more than holds its own while Budin’s voice rocks out strong and clear in a song that connects the candles with the fires of justice and promises to let it burn.
While many of the images used in the songs come directly from Budin’s Jewish roots, the music never falls into religious cliché. The beautifully turned “Reason to Believe” draws from a range of human relationships and natural wonders to trace the roots of faith: “It’s the lightning in the sky/your perfect smile your Godly eyes.”
The range of musical styles and influences is almost as wide as the range of faith influences. From the traditional folks roots of the raucous “Carry That Rock,” to the gospel sounds of “Take Me Back,” Metaphor displays a musical virtuosity rare in our genre-driven age. You may ask, “What’s a Jewish singer-songwriter doing joining voices with The Prayer Warriors on a gospel song?” Well, this is the same artist who introduced the world to accapella “Jew-wop” on Hallelujah Land, and under the production hand of his older brother, David, the various musical threads weave together seamlessly.
The disc closes with a final weave: the Jewish experience of slavery and exodus hope with the African-American experience. Borrowing from Rabbi Heschel’s memorable insistence that his “feet were praying” as he marched with Dr. King, the last track, “Every Step a Prayer,” reminds us that “it’s holy ground we walk upon/this journey that we share/in every breath, a miracle/and every step a prayer.”
While I leave the judgment of the miraculous to others, every breath of Metaphor is certainly a prayer, and the totality bears repeated listening.
From the Cleveland Jewish News
By Alan Smason, Staff Reporter
Noah Budin’s New CD is Love Letter to God
“Metaphor” is, in essence, a love letter to God. It is a pronouncement of Budin’s faith in Judaism and a vehicle by which others can similarly draw inspiration through his songs. … An engaging singer with a soulful exuberance, Budin’s lyrics are joyful and insightful, but never trite. There may be few Hebrew words in number, but there is no doubt that the form and substance of his music is from a Jewish perspective… (read the rest of the review here):
From the Cleveland Free Times
by Anastasia Pantsios
There’s a natural-as-breathing quality to these elegant folk-based tunes whose lyrics embrace a distinctly Jewish spirituality and sense of social justice. These tunes should be popular at Jewish camps; one can hear a busload of campers singing the exuberant “Carry that Rock.” The gentle, joyful “Blessing,” with its cycle-of-life theme, is an obvious wedding song. Budin’s voice frequently recalls the gruff fluency of Gordon Lightfoot on tunes like the pensive “Edge of the Ocean,” which he describes in liner notes as a “social justice call to action song” with lyrics like “We’ve marched the streets of Selma, Alabama/have we walked those many miles just to stop?” The theme re-appears on “Every Step a Prayer” which draws parallels between Jewish and African-American journeys to freedom, and by extension, all such journeys. The well-paced disc’s 12 tracks balance sparse, quiet tracks like “Fire” with uptempo tunes like the celebratory “Huruach” and the triumphant “Let It Burn.”
by Peggy Latkovich
Budin is a singer-songwriter of deep faith and conviction. He’s also a solid musician with a gift for marrying words to music. This collection of songs has an easy folk/country sway to it, bringing to mind a sort of Steve Earle of Jewish mysticism. He’s surrounded himself with some of Northeast Ohio’s finest musicians, including members of the Prayer Warriors, Harmonia’s Walt Mahovlich, and go-to-guy for hot sax licks Norm Tischler. The production value is crisp and clean, keeping Budin’s strong yet sensitive vocals in the foreground. Touches of cello and piano color the ballads, screaming electric guitar the more driving songs.
Religious faith and social justice are the things that matter to Budin and he writes poetically about both, presenting them as sides of the same coin. On the heart-breaking “The Silent Son,” he sings poignantly of a man dying of AIDS. The simple guitar accompaniment is subtly enhanced by Mahovlich’s accordion. (Perhaps a little too subtly – the soft chords are nearly buried in the mix.) He takes on a subject as weighty as the creation (“Fire”) and renders it in an emotive ballad with some painterly wordplay.
The evocative opening line “And grappling with the poetry of a sunset” tugs the listener right into the story. Contrast this with the rattly rockabilly of “Carry That Rock.” The story of Moses gets a clattery one-take treatment with banjo, mandolin, piano, and drums. Though it happened decades ago, Budin references the march on Selma not once, but twice (“Edge of the Ocean” and “Every Step a Prayer”), driving home the event’s continued relevance. Metaphor has a historical sweep that takes us from the dawn of humankind to the plagues of the present day. Budin manages to give the even most mystical subject matter a very human immediacy, and does it with a warm musicality.
“…Metaphor is just a beautiful collection of brilliant songs. Silent Son made me cry. The truth is, every song was so well written. The whole vibe of this project is so right. I learned so much and FELT so much just listening. You write so well, and your melodies are lovely. Your band is awesome, too. They sound great. And the one piece that is recorded live sounds AMAZING. Not to take a thing away from the sound of your CD, you are meant to be heard LIVE. I was so inspired by the arrangements, your playing, your writing, and your beautiful voice. I can’t say enough good things about this CD…”
– Julie Silver, singer/songwriter/recording artist, Los Angeles, CA
Review of “Hallelujah Land”
From Shalom America
If Pete Seeger had been Jewish, these are songs he’d have written! Cleveland, Ohio native Noah Budin has released what is this decade’s best Jewish folk album, and possibly the best since Megama’s 1980 debut album. Produced by Cantor Doug Cotler (a fine artist in his own right), “Hallelujah Land” sets a new standard for English language Jewish music. On “Hallelujah Land”, Budin and his guitar are joined by sparse but effective instrumentation and background vocals on songs of faith in G-d, Bible stories and the Land of Israel. “Early in the Morning (Late at Night)” is a rousing throwback to 60′s protest-folk music complete with call and response chorus and verses that cover Moses, Samson, the victims of the Holocaust and even the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “Joshua’s Band” is a no holds barred Jewish Gospel number that will have you clapping and singing along with the choir instantly. “Wisdom of the Heart”, a prayer for well-being is a pretty and lush duet with Jewish recording artist Julie Silver, and the title track is a country-folk romp through the story of the Exodus. A fantastic debut effort and a refreshing take on Jewish music!
“Your heart will grow wings when you listen to and meet Noah Budin.”
– Cantor Jacqueline Shuchat-Marx, Albuquerque, MN
“There are a lot of people who write great music… there are very few who touch your heart. Noah Budin does both with class, sensitivity and spirit.”
-Craig Taubman, Singer/songwriter, Los Angeles CA
[Your CD is] just lovely–full and rich and high and good and layered and strong and meaningful… You have a clear, Taylor-esque, unique, and gorgeous voice. It’s all wonderful. THANK YOU for putting me on it. You have Wisdom of the Heart. It shines through.
-Julie Silver, Singer/Songwriter, Los Angeles, CA
Noah Budin came to our religious school for a morning of storytelling, songwriting and concert. He was fabulous! He had a wonderful rapport with the students in their classroom as well as in the sanctuary for a concert with the kids and their parents.
He has gotten rave reviews from the parents, teachers and the kids! He was also nice enough to give the teachers a private concert after hours with a few of his most beautiful songs that were appropriate for a more intimate setting.
Thanks Noah – for a wonderful job.
-Karen Joseph, Temple Rodeph Torah, Marlborough, NJ
“A perfect blend of the American Folk Tradition and the pure Jewish soul.”
-Rabbi Joe Black, Albuquerque, NM