Billboard Magazine

August 14th, 2006

The Klezmatics
Wonder Wheel
Lyrics by Woody Guthrie

Where does klezmer meet American folk music and social activism? Thanks to The Klezmatics, we discover common ground on Brooklyn’s Mermaid Avenue, where Woody Guthrie lived in the late 1940’s. Working with Guthrie’s daughter Nora to uncover some lesser known gems from the pioneering balladeer, the band confounds expectations by tapping into a bluegrassy vibe (“Gonna Get Through This World”) and a 1950’s style pop (on “Mermaid’s Avenue”) as well as into its iconic klezmer energy on such tunes as “Goin’ Away To Sea” and “Wheel Of Life.” Regardless of what flavor a particular track takes on, however, the Klezmatics prove themselves to be sensitive interpreters of any artistic language they choose, shapeshifting their sound around vocalist Lorin Sklamberg’s lithe and heartfelt lead. While the trip along Mermaid Avenue is off the beaten Klezmatics path, it’s a welcome diversion.