Spakr

Sveta

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    8
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AllMusic Review by

Spakr's second album is a colorful smorgasbord of folk elements wonderfully rendered into nine original songs and three variations on traditional tunes. The group draws its inspiration from the Jewish and Gypsy traditions, with extra material from Greece, Central Europe, and Turkey, among other places. The group's all-acoustic instrumentation and proficiency in several languages (including Yiddish, Greek, Romanian, Czech, and French), not to mention the sheer quality of the arrangements, deserve comparisons to Czech Republic trad revivalists Gothart and Quebec's Polish-Yiddish project Jeszcze Raz. Despite the large number of cultures it references, the music forms a unique whole, a Spakr signature that encompasses all these folk forms into a far-reaching but cohesive group sound. Highlights include the Russian Gypsy standard "Tchavolo" and such strong compositions as "Sveta," "Rose," and "Mirale." Jo Macera's gravelly voice has that Gypsy charm that makes the group's music so believable. He is supported by strong backing vocals, especially in the klezmer-heavy numbers. If Macera's voice is the group's soul, its heart comes from Hélène Henrioud's violin. Her expressive playing carries each song's emotional impact across language barriers. Jacques Marques' soprano sax (often mimicking the clarinet of the Gypsy, klezmer, and Greek traditions), Odile Chosson's accordion, and Hervé Prudent's double bass round out the instrumentation. There is not a single weak track on Sveta. The group keeps the energy levels deep into the red for 55 minutes, dizzying senses and mesmerizing souls. This album is hard to find (though not as hard as the group's debut), but worth every effort.

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