Latin Conference & Awards

Foreign Letters

On her original Hebrew composition "Indifferent," Chava Alberstein asks, "Does Yiddish have a future?" Thanks in part to her bilingual efforts here, the answer would appear to be "Yes." The Israeli vo

On her original Hebrew composition "Indifferent," Chava Alberstein asks, "Does Yiddish have a future?" Thanks in part to her bilingual efforts here, the answer would appear to be "Yes." The Israeli vocalist creates a Yiddish-Hebrew hybrid that pays homage to the past while engaging with the present. The Yiddish tracks' words come from a variety of poets, while several Hebrew songs use lyrics Alberstein wrote herself; yet the Ben Mink-produced disc feels coherent because she wrote the music for the entire album. The result is an acoustic style that evokes both a bygone Eastern European universe and modern Israel. On such selections as "Liar" and "Indifferent," playful fiddles add Old World flavor to new Hebrew songs, while Yiddish numbers based on old poems like "High Atop a Mountain" and "Mirele" possess a modern folk-pop sensibility due to the singer's confident yet intimate delivery. This masterful set should help spark enthusiasm for Yiddish music with a new generation.—WH