Reviewed by David Lynch, Fri., May 24, 2002
Divahn(Miz Rocky) Divahn's name, a term common to Persian, Arabic, and Hebrew that means a collection of songs or poetry, represents this local quartet's musical inspiration well. Blending the best from across the Jewish Diaspora, this all-female group sings in Hebrew, Ladino (Judeo-Spanish), Persian, and Aramaic, drawing from the traditions of Iran, Turkey, Iraq, Spain, Israel, and even American Appalachia. Led by classically trained lead singer Galeet Dardashti, who plays guitar and hand drum, Divahn also features Emily Pinkerton on violin, rabel, banjo, and vocals, Lauren DeAlbert on Indian and Middle Eastern percussion, didgeridoo, and vocals, and Michal Raizen on cello and vocals. Together they weave an energetic, full-of-heart, acoustically driven voyage through the history of Jewish music, earning them a standing-room-only crowd at this year's SXSW. Don't think klezmer, however, for while their repertoire is as upbeat as that well-known Jewish genre, Divahn's music is more graceful and posed. No weak tracks on this evenly paced, well-recorded, and auspicious debut, but a few cuts stand out. "Ya Ribon Alam" successfully blends banjo and tabla (for the first time ever?) and showcases gorgeous harmony vocals, with Dardashti proving she's got vocal talent to spare. Closer "Shekharkhoret" begins elegantly with cello, violin, and vox, and ends in a dervish of rhythm and melody. In combining the old and new, drawing from across the globe, and mixing their respective musical gifts, Divahn have not only a fine debut on their hands, but a new musical statement -- one of craft, originality, and spirit.