I was introduced to The Niggun Project: Songs at a Table by a friend of a friend who is related to the people who coordinated and produced the album. Since encountering it, I have been quite enamored with its quality of niggun selections as well as the atmospheric feel of the tracks.
"Songs at a Table" is a collection of beautiful niggunim (though a few have words as well), recorded in a fashion unseen of in the Jewish music world. Instead of cramming into a professional studio and crafting tracks that can at times sound artificial - even if they are quite pleasant - "Songs at a Table" is literally that: a group of guys gathered together to sing some great, moving, inspiring, and invigorating niggunim around a dinner table.
Check out this Youtube video for proof of the concept:
Check out previews of all the songs on the album here.
"Songs at a Table" includes niggunim from a variety of sources such as Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, Chassidic niggunim from Breslav, Lubavitch, Mobov, Moditz, Stolin, as well as favorites like "Shabbos Koidesh" and "Mareh Kohen." Lastly, there is an original niggun by the project coordinator, Dr. Josh Milner named after his youngest daughter Batya, which I personally feel is worthy of being included as one of the many niggunim popularly sung during a kumzitz.
The appeal of this album for me is how immersive the listening experience is. As soon as I pop the CD in (or start paying the MP3s), I feel like I'm sitting there at a lively kumzitz, and feel encouraged to join in and sing along with the vocalists. Many albums out there that either have niggunim on them or are solely collections of niggunim are often produced in such a way that there is a clear difference between the recorded version and what I'd expect to encounter when I would get together with some friends on Friday night for some spiritual inspiration. "Songs at a Table" captures this essence, and anytime I feel like I need an uplifting spiritual escape I can start listening to these niggunim and be transported to a different dimension.
On top of all the wonderful things about this CD, all profits made from its sale go to benefit Leket Israel, the National Food Bank for the State of Israel. So purchasing this album is a win-win situation - you get to listen to some really great niggunim, and you'll give tzedakah at the same time!
With Chanukah coming up, I think this would make a great present for anyone you know who enjoys Jewish Music. Or, save it until the Sefira A Capella season post Pesach or during the 3-Weeks. Either way, check out and buy this unique and uplifting album!