Lucette van den Berg
It might seem like the Latin American standards of Maria Mendes and Lucette van den Berg’s Yiddish music are worlds apart, but in fact they’re more like kindred spirits. What they share is a deep sense of feeling and the ability to tell a story through music. A story that can be told through tears, but also be carried by strength and will.
Benkshaft is the third album from Lucette van den Berg. Here, her congenial understanding of Yiddish balladry is allowed to shine. The accompaniment is sparse, but effective, and the combination of guitar, upright bass, subtle percussion and classic Klezmer- instruments like violin and accordion provide the perfect foil for Van den Berg’s musical tales.
The opener, “A Kleyn Wiglid Far A Groyse Libe,” is an achievement in itself. With its eight minutes, it’s a ballad of epic proportions that starts with a gently picked guitar before Van den Berg’s voice enters. The song slowly builds in tension as bass and a weeping violin is added and in the end, percussionist Ines Klink joins as Van den Berg’s swirls in a wordless cry.
The violin is a prominent instrument on the album and Madelien Verheij really makes it sing like a human voice. So much so, that it’s almost like a duet where Verheij makes the strings burn with emotion. But it’s not all deep balladry, there’s also room for a joyful dance on “Wolekh” where Sanne Möricke’s accordion takes the spotlight in a song filled with restless energy. Like all the music on the album, it’s intense and soulful and proves that folk music isn’t a thing of the past, but a timeless expression of the human heart.