Mizrahi Pop with a Religious Twist, Barak Cohen
Since his days as a young teenager, Barak Cohen has made a career for himself adding religious lyrics to hits by Eyal Golan, Ethnix and other leaders in Mizrahi pop. Bagan Hashoshanim (In the Garden of Roses) is Cohen’s sixth disc, but it’s only his second collection of mostly original material.
Like much of today’s Mizrahi pop, Bagan Hashoshanim takes its cues primarily from Latin dance club music, contemporary Greek balladry and the bubblegum sing-alongs of the Arab world. The title track is reminiscent of the 2002 Sarit Hadad mega-hit “Light a Candle,” while “Simha Menatzahat” (Joy Overcomes), “Eizeh Min Olam” (What a World) and “Yesh Boreh Olam” (There’s a Creator) all sport fancy tranced-out rhythm-synth interludes, the latter two including rap verses.
The album’s centerpiece, “Rak Alekha,” would be pure Eyal Golan fodder if it hadn’t been built on lyrics that ponder faith in God and Jews’ obligation to crown their King.
Music consumers who love Mediterranean-flavored bubblegum pop but are uncomfortable with the genre’s love song lyrics will enjoy Bagan Hashoshanim; the rest of us probably won’t.