Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

The Klezmatics: Jews With Horns [Xenophile, 1995]
If I was a maven, maybe the hodgepodge of influences would grate, but more likely they'd just delight more. Conceptually, the pleasure here is how subtly a free and easy universalism animates a style that's often provincial on purpose and sometimes culture-bound in spite of itself. And musically, it's how unassumingly these folks show off their endless chops. That goes even for the wonderful singer Lorin Sklamberg, who never betrays the slightest emotional or physical strain even though he's as transcendent a tenor as today's semipop can offer--and for my second favorite, violinist Alicia Svigals, and for avant-clarinetist David Krakauer, and Miles-inflected Frank London, and loose-limbed David Licht, and no doubt bassist-vocalist Paul Morrissett too. This is a wedding music for listeners of every sexual persuasion. Its object is joy. Its miracle is that they come by the joy honestly. A-