Print this Page

World Music CD Reviews Europe

CHARMING HOSTESS

By Marty Lipp
Published September 27, 2005

Sarajevo Blues
Tzadik

You could be forgiven for thinking this group’s name has a tinge of sarcasm, like the smiling, harried hostess in a restaurant who can’t quite conceal her anger. Here your charming hostess has a biting wit that is entertaining as it discomforts. This trio has a sound reminiscent of the piercing harmonies of the Bulgarian Women’s Choir, but with the hipster brio of the B-52’s. On this album, the group’s wit turns very dark, devoting most of the album to a series of songs chronicling life in Sarajevo during the ethnic warfare of the 1990s. Lead singer and songwriter Jewlia Eisenberg was taken by the poetry of Semezdin Mehmedinovic and decided to transpose some of his pieces to a set of songs. The results are songs that will give a new front-line perspective of a war that is familiar to most only through once-removed journalistic accounts. “Death Is A Job” finds the narrator running from a sniper, yet also pursued by war correspondents, “monkeys with Nikons.” The song “War” has an oddly detached ironic take on the Sarajevo siege, put to a Zap Mama-like acappella groove. Sarajevo Blues never fails to surprise and intrigue, even if it is occasionally a bit didactic and challenging.