Book of J
Book of J, 2017
Jewlia Eisenberg & Jeremiah Lockwood
CD, downloads available from 3rd Generation Recordings.
This is one of the most fun and innovative recordings I've heard in ages. It's kind of a dream recording: two of my favorite experimental Jewish musicians performing today. But, instead of creating music that is pushing the edges, they are, instead, using their common love of blues, politics, and gospel, to create a new psalmody. One the one hand, it's sort of Jewish Americana with a nice progressive edge—fits right in there with Mark Rubin's Jew of Oklahoma. Indeed, the recording opens with Jewlia Eisenberg's voice and Jeremiah Lockwood's excellent blues guitar (lots of slide!), singing "Twelve gates of the city." Moving from there to Hebrew, soon on to Yiddish and more Gospel. Almost all of the songs are traditional from one tradition or another, except for "the Partisan" (which I could swear is a Leonard Cohen song--perhaps his is the English translation and arrangement?) and "Sweet Inspiration".
In some ways this is a continuation of Lockwood's work pushing khazones in new directions. (See his wonderful Kol Nidre, or work with The Sway Machinery.) Or, you can see on this recording Eisenberg's restless probing of world song with Charming Hostess, either the more conventional Eat, or her groundbreaking "Bowls Project. Certainly, the haunting "Seven sons had Hannah," here sung in Ladino, would fit perfectly in any Charming Hostess concert.
Mostly, though, I find this a recording I turn to in these times, when we need the reminder that we have been in "Mei tzarim", narrow straits, before. And by organizing together, we have confronted that which needs confrontration, and have gone on to thrive. As the duo put it: "These jewels of American Psalmody are rooted in the prophetic voice, using old stories to comment on the present day, and to hold our own time to account." Whether listening to Lockwood's gentle "Kum mayn kind", or the duo's harmonies on civil rights anthems such as "Freedom Plow", this recording is the right music at the right time. And for those of us with the blues, listening to her sing "My sun will never go down," accompanied by Lockwood's impeccable and soulful guitar, is a treat, good for returning the smiles to our faces (and perhaps the strength to the rest of us). You can get your copy of this amazing recording, as a CD or digital download, from 3rd gen recordings. You deserve it. Treat yourself (and friends)!
Reviewed by Ari Davidow, 18 Mar 2018.
Personnel this recording:
Jewlia Eisenberg: vocals
Jeremiah Lockwood: vocals, guitar
- Twelve gates (trad.) 3:07
- Agadelkha (trad.) 2:49
- Do Lord (trad.) 3:23
- Khavele (trad.) 3:50
- Freedom Plow (trad.) 2:25
- The Partisan (Anna Marly, E. d'Astier de la Vigerie, Hy Zaret) 3:37
- Tell God (trad.) 3:27
- Sweet Inspiration (Dan Penn, Spooner Oldham) 2:38
- Seven sons had Hannah (trad.) 2:25
- Tzir (trad.) 1:56
- Kum mayn kind (trad.) 2:23
- My sun will never go down (trad.) 3:46
- Fiery love (trad.) 2:53