THE TIME IS COMING
© 2011 by Shoshana Averbach

As the liner notes for her new CD, “The Time is Coming,” tell us, “Shoshana Averbach, LMSW, MA, MT-BC, LCAT, has worked as a social worker and music therapist with geriatrics for many years. She also practices energy and spiritual healing.”

And, in the interests of full disclosure, she and I were students together at the Wurzweiler School of Social Work, receiving our MSW’s in 2007.

She has composed, arranged and sung all the songs  (lyrics and music) on this CD, as well as accompanying herself on guitar, keyboard, electric piano and flute. She uses her trained voice and impressive range to great effect. On several songs, she even sings her own harmonies. The first impression, then, is of a very talented, skilled performer, with ideas bubbling over in her mind.

Her melodies are very varied in tempo, range and emotional tone.

She writes and sings in widely diverse styles — calypso, C&W (Country & Western), acoustic urban folk style reminiscent of early Baez recordings, and so on.

The themes of the songs include a wide variety of emotions, all expressed positively. As an artist, I think she’s sometimes experimenting with how to use an “auto-biographical,” personal kind of song-format to express, at the same time, something very spiritual.

Yet, through all this, she is clearly identifying herself as a “Jewish” artist — one whose inspiration comes partly from wrestling with what that identity means to and requires of her.

She’s finding her own way in this, just as Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, Debbie Friedman, Basya Schechter and others have found their own ways — each one unique. The Jewish musical artist of today has a mind-boggling “menu” from which to choose: Hazzanut, Arabic classical and popular music, international folk music (including Irish, Caribbean and American), etc.  There’s absolutely no limit. Every artist makes choices, knowingly or unknowingly, in order to say what they want to say.

This is a “listening” CD. One could conceivably dance to some of the songs; Shoshana might even have used some of the stronger rhythms in her work with children and seniors. But I think she intends for us mostly to enjoy listening to the music and paying attention to the words (a booklet with the lyrics is included with the CD).

On the other hand, I could certainly see some of these songs used in group singing with children in a Jewish Day School or after-school Hebrew program — especially “HaShem, I Need You” (the aforementioned calypso-like number) and “I Sure Do ‘Preciate You.”  I could also see some of these songs being sung by choruses, even non-professional choral groups in synagogues and community centers.

“Existential Questions” is an almost Breslav-like hitbodedut: A private conver-sation in which we pour our hearts out to G-d.  Aside from what this song tells us about Shoshana’s feelings (and, perhaps, our own), it can be a model for that personal “chat” with G-d that Rebbe Nachman taught.

“Unfinished Business” similarly expresses that there are things that she — and we — can grow spiritually through grappling with.  Much Jewish teaching has permeated her own thinking, and comes through in her songs. But a psychotherapeutic viewpoint comes through, too. We all have “unfinished business” that continues to affect us throughout our lives, until we learn to deal with it productively.

A couple of the songs, “Chayim P’shutim” and “Perek Shirati” are all in Hebrew. The other songs are all in English, with a light sprinkling of Hebrew words. This has educational value, too.

Copies of her CD can be ordered through: info@healingnotes.com. You can pay by check, money order, or paypal.com, sent to info@healingnotes.com. The price is $15 + $3 postage/handling. Paypal can transfer the money from a checking account or credit card to/from an e-mail address.

For listening to clips of the songs, you can go to cdbaby.com, but she prefers that CD-copies be ordered through her directly.

Some Jewish bookstores in Brooklyn also carry it: “Eichler’s” (Flatbush location), “Judaica World,” and “Heichal Haseforim.”

Shoshana will also be performing at the ATARA Conference concert on Sat eve, 2/11/12, at Congregation Bnai Jacob in Park Slope, Brooklyn (401 9th St, between 6-7 Aves.). The concert, featuring female musicians, dancers, and artists, begins at 8:45 p.m. and costs $15. ATARA is an organization for women, Torah, and the arts.

Shoshana’s new CD has much to offer in listening pleasure and thought-provoking ideas.