GEOFF BERNER - Klezmer Mongrels
Even though Canadian Geoff Berner, as a member of Terror In Tiny Town, has his roots in punk rock, he has devoted himself since 2000 to the considerably quieter singer/songwriter genre by releasing already five albums. Klezmer Mongrels concludes his trilogy about klezmer music which started in 2004 with Whiskey Rabbi and continued in 2007 with Wedding Dance Of The Widow Bride.
Klezmer is a typical Jewish folk music tradition. Geoff Berner, an accordionist, combines this heritage with Eastern European ethno sounds, as his forefathers are from Romania. He’s accompanied by drummer Wayne Adams and violinist Diona Davies. His music doesn’t need a guitar or electronic effects, but due to its ironic undertone manages to capture the listener.
The music is full of mood swings, allowing the atmosphere to change from funny to sad within songs. The band is playing with tremendous fervour and sincerity, as if they were a horde of run-down street musicians. It all sounds very alive, although it also takes some time getting used to if you’re not familiar with that style. Towards the end, the songs lose a bit of their punch, diminishing a little the overall positive impression.
The lyrics treat everyday topics like feelings, alcohol and politics. Geoff Berner displays a sharper sense of humour than many self-proclaimed comedians in songs like Half-German Girlfriend and Fukher, the latter having lyrics penned by Irving Fields, an ancient lounge artist.
Klezmer Mongrels needs to be listened to more than once to develop its charms. Afterwards it’s hard to get out of this addicting sound. Geoff Berner isn’t running after trends, but an authentic performer who performs his art relentlessly.