Two years ago, the Israeli singer Kobi Oz released his solo debut, Psalms for the Perplexed (check out our review here). The title played on two classic Jewish texts, Guide for the Perplexed and the Book of Psalms, and the album broke all sorts of boundaries–it featured a non-Orthodox Israeli singing about God in pop music.
Most remarkable of all, it was seriously good. The song “Elohay” (“My God”)–which mixed recordings of Oz’s grandfather, a Yemenite hazzan, with Kobi’s own voice–became a radio hit for both secular and religious audiences. The album’s earnest depictions of religious love, and struggles with the idea of God, resonated with Israeli audiences, although many thought it was a passing trend.
With his follow-up album, Mizmorim Nosafim (“Extra Psalms”), Oz proves his enduring appeal. This new album (which you can listen to in its entirety here) is both more daring and more devout than its predecessor. Oz’s cover of “Ya Habibi,” a Sephardic song about the coming of the Messiah, is a playful take, but he sings the lyrics with a measure of earnestness. And “The Midrash of My Dove” is a metaphor for Israel, couched in a folk-rock song that functions as both praise and criticism: The country, like the dove, has accomplished so much, but it’s hiding, unable to find “a true justice or peace.” It’s a rare combination of admiration and anger, and, in Oz’s hands, it’s masterful.