In the course of three albums and seven years, this immensely talented New York-based band has carved out a unique and remarkable niche.
Nefesh is led by singer-banjo player Eric Lindberg and his partner, singer Doni Zasloff. Relying on the couple’s exquisite songwriting, Nefesh has refined a stylistic integration of bluegrass, Celtic and Eastern European influences, along with the bandmembers’ own Jewish heritage.
Despite, or maybe even because of, Nefesh’s acute sense of tradition, the band’s music is utterly American, utterly contemporary and thoroughly compelling in a manner that often speaks directly to the human condition.
And it’s a testimony to the band’s level of accomplishment that Jerry Douglas, Sam Bush, Bryan Sutton and other luminaries participated in this album not just as highly-credentialed sidemen but as full-blown collaborators.
From the first chords of “Wanderlust” the lovely, high-spirited opening track (cowritten by Zasloff and Lindberg, who composed all but one of the 15 songs), the music grabs hold of you and doesn’t let go.
Selections range from a jubilant, head-on bluegrass instrumental called “Big Mountain” to vividly introspective ballads like “Somewhere On This Mountain,” the mystical, Celtic-flavored “Where Oh Where” and “Piece Of the Sun (For Ann Frank),” which expresses hope in the face of tragedy and despair.
All in all, Nefesh has a great thing going. This music is more than likely to quickly put you under its spell.