When I saw the song list on the album, I couldn't wait to listen to the CD. And I wasn't disappointed. A practitioner of Jewish renewal (a form of Reform Judaism), Eugene, Oregon's Rob Tobias is the modern version of the traditional Jewish music group Safam. Tobias relies on his Jewish roots to help inspire his music. His music has been referred to as Jewish Americana. Tobias takes traditional Jewish songs and performs them for a modern world. By the River is Tobias's fifth album. He uses his voice, guitar, piano, a few friends and the exceptional flute playing of pal Maxxine to paint images of rivers, peace and Shabbos (the Sabbath). Some of the 16 songs were taken from traditional Jewish songs and others were inspired by a trip to a kibbutz in Israel, but all of them are tunes to lift your hearts and celebrate life. By the River is an album with Jewish music, but it is an album for anyone who enjoys good sounds.
September 2006 by Sherrill Fulghum