Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

The Klezmatics: Rise Up!/Shteyt Oyf! [Rounder, 2003]
Their first true album in six years would have arrived in 2002 if the release date had survived whatever squabbles delayed it. But with only violinist Alicia Svigals gone her own way, blame the mood shift on history rather than personality--lots of slow ones to go with lots of grief. Leaning on the mournful Eastern European modalities the shtetl assimilated long ago--check especially the Matt Darriau threnody and Frank London prayer--the Klezmatics conjure an album as soaked in 9/11 as The Rising, whose similar title is no coincidence. But this doesn't mean they jettison the jazz passages and upful wedding tunes. The marriage of heaven and hell, Blake called it. A-