Wolf Krakowski is a man of his word. In his introductory email, he offered to send me some CD’s that “use a lot of that "jungle" rock 'n roll in my music…..lots of =kol isha= too, in case that's a problem for you.
His promo package delivered on that promise in spades. It included three discs: Krakowski’s own “Goyrl:Destiny” and “Transmigrations:Gilgul” -- both on Tzadik Records -- as well as Fraidy Katz’s “Di Alte Kashe.”
Wolf Krakowski is the Johnny Cash of Yiddish music. Backed by a solid roots rock trio, The Lonesome Brothers, and some guests, including “Goyrl” producer by Frank London, Krakowski delivers dark interpretations of Yiddish songs familiar and un. The band’s powerful arrangements nicely support Krakowski’s reedy vocals throughout. This ain't your grandma's Yiddish music. Well, actually, it is, but the arrangements aren't.
Krakowski is drawn to dark lyrics. Many of the songs are about death, dying, or leave-taking. From the brothers who slowly die in ‘Tsen Brider” to Warsaw’s Jews remembered in “Varshe” to the self-explantory “Alts Geyt Avek Mitn Roykh” all on Gilgul and martyrs remembered in“The Griber, Roter Laym” and the powerful “Hundret” on “Goyrl.”
Yet underneath it all, there is a optimistic defiance; an ode in praise of Shabes, a belief that man will not keep on repeating the sins of the past, and an optimism that Geule (redemption) will yet come. These are deep records. Check ‘em out!
Fraidy Katz’s disc takes a similar musical approach and she even duets with Wolf on ‘Gedenk” a role reversal from her duet appearances on Krakowski’s discs.
Amazon has the albums here:
Fraidy Katz’s ‘Di Alte Kashe”