Review: Wolf Krakowski - Goyrl: Destiny


Album Cover - Goyrl: Destiny
Goyrl: Destiny
 Artist: Wolf Krakowski
 Album: Goyrl: Destiny
 Date of Release: 2002/07/23
 Label: Tzadik
 Cat. No.: TZ7166
 Country of Release: US
 Genre/s: 1) World | Jewish
2) World | Other
3) Popular

 Sub-Genre/s: 1) Yiddish
2) Blues, R&B
3) R&B, Rock
 Type: Studio
   Time: 52:34
   Date of Review: 2004/01/09
   Web Site:

Purchasing Info

Goyrl: Destiny - Mo' Real Yiddishe Blues

Wolf Krakowski's most recent album, following on from his previous outstanding Transmigrations, was released on Tzadik in July 2002. Goyrl: Destiny stays true to Krakowski's unique personal style, presenting Yiddish songs in a highly personal, striking modern idiom that successfully blends blues, R&B, folk-rock, country-rock, and more besides in a totally organic, unforced manner. Add to this Wolf Krakowski's sensitive, usually restrained, charismatic voice, superb arrangements and instrumentation, and you get an album that is totally compelling and utterly irresistible in its charm. The production is perfection itself, subtle, effective, never over-produced, but you really wouldn't expect anything less from Frank London.

Regardless of whether you come to Goyrl: Destiny from a singer-songwriter, blues, R&B, rock/folk-rock/country-rock, or Yiddish Song, or indeed any other angle, this album cannot fail to delight. Best forget about "angles" and "genres"altogether and just enjoy the music for the great music that it is. Music from the heart and soul that goes straight to both. Call it Yiddishe Blues if you like - this is the genuine article, with more Yiddish soul or Yiddishe neshome to use the Yiddish term, than you could easily shake a stick at.

Wolf Krakowski's Goyrl: Destiny opens with a powerful interpretation of Tate-Mame that grabs you straight away and hooks you to the rest of this wonderful album. Dona, Dona is given a beautifully soulful rendition that emphasizes the poignancy of the lyrics. A touch of humour surfaces in Kh'Vel Shoyn Mer Nisht Ganvenen, in which the thief protests, "I'll never steal again, just this time, one more time...", all in a gorgeous bluesey setting. Mit Farmakhte Oygn features an essentially country-rock type setting that is particularly distinguished by the contrast provided by a subtle steel pan, played by St. Kitts-born Corner Mentos. The Trinidadian steel pan has been enjoying popularity in Israel for quite a long time and found its way into many Israeli recordings over the years, and it is very gratifying to see this wonderful instrument finding its way into Jewish music outside of Israel as well now. Krakowski hits the perfect tone of hope and even optimism for A Shod Dayne Trern. The mood turns more soulful again with Tsum Sof Vest Du Zayn Mayn, underscored by a plaintive soprano. The Chanukah song Drey, Dreydl provides a happier note. Turning somber, Tife Griber, Royter Laym is a beautifully subdued, restrained arrangement that leaves Krakowski's voice to carry the anguish, pain, and grief, but also hope. Hundert, one of those chilling songs that came out of the concentration camps of the Shoah, also receives a restrained, subtle treatment that is almost minimalist and perfection itself. A duet with Klezical Tradition Yiddish singer Fraidy Katz, Lomir Trakhtn Nor Fun Haynt, has Wolf Krakowski turning to a welcome lighter mood with a touch of swing and superbly blending voices. Gib Zhe Khaver A Roykher Ton, though somewhat more somber still continues in a lighter if bittersweet vein, determined not to forget pain, sheer horror, and anger. The closer, Zingarella, originally a folk tune from the former Yugoslavia, brings Latin touches to a sax and organ-driven bittersweet love song.

The liner of Wolf Krakowski's Goyrl: Destiny includes lyrics for all songs in English translation only, and biographical notes on the songwriters represented on this album. It is a pity Tzadik skimped on providing the full Yiddish and transliterated Yiddish lyrics. This omission is however considerably alleviated by Wolf Krakowski's superb diction that renders every last word with perfect clarity. Also, Yiddish and transliterated Yiddish lyrics can be found on Kame'a's web site.

With Goyrl: Destiny, Wolf Krakowski has once again given us the real Yiddishe Blues, rendering Yiddish songs in his own inimitable, inventive and imaginative style and modern idioms without ever losing any of the songs' Yiddish essence. This album has to be essential in any comprehensive Yiddish song collection and will be equally at home in any good blues and R&B or, for that matter, singer-songwriter collection. Unmissable!

© 2004 Rainlore's World of Music/Rainlore. All rights reserved.

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Track List:

 1. Tate-Mame [My Father And Mother] (Benzion Witler) - 4:26
 2. Dona, Dona (A. Zeitlin / S. Secunda) - 4:58
 3. Kh'Vel Shoyn Mer Nisht Ganvenen [I'll Never Steal Again] (Trad. - arr. Wolf Krakowski) - 4:59
 4. Mit Farmakhte Oygn [With Eyes Closed] (I. Manger / N. Hirsh) - 3:59
 5. A Shod Dayne Trern [A Waste Of Your Tears] (A. Levin) - 5:43
 6. Tsum Sof Vest Du Zayn Mayn [You Will Be Mine] (Yiddish lyrics, Wolf Krakowski;
     Original Romani title: Tu Man Kames, S. Dymitr / M. Mirca / Z. Mirca) - 3:14
 7. Drey, Dreydl [Spin, Dreydl] (M. Oysher) - 4:50
 8. Tife Griber, Royter Laym [Deep Pits, Red Clay] (S. Halkin / E. Gorovets) - 5:20
 9. Hundert [One Hundred] (Anon. Mielec, Poland concentration camp inmate; transmitted by
     I. Freilich; arr. Wolf Krakowski) - 3:38
10. Lomir Trakhtn Nor Fun Haynt [Let's Just Think About Today] (Benzion Witler) - 3:39
11. Gib Zhe Khaver A Roykher Ton [Buddy, Have A Smoke With Me] (S. Kaczerginski / M. Tabachnikov;
      Ikh Bin Geven A Partisan [I Was A Partisan], Friends of the Author, Buenos Aires 1952;
      Orig. Russian title: Davai Zakurim; I. Frenkl / M. Tabachnikov; Reconstructed by Bret Werb) - 3:00
12. Zingarella (Yugoslav folksong; Yiddish lyrics Jacob Sandler; add. lyrics Wolf Krakowski) - 4:42

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Wolf Krakowski - Vocals, rhythm guitar

The Lonesome Brothers:
Jim Armenti - Guitars, mandolin, violin, balalaika, batar
Ray Mason - Bass guitar; guitar on "Gib-zhe Khaver A Roykher Ton"
Tom Shea - Drums; guitar on "Gib-zhe Khaver A Roykher Ton"

Seth Austen: National steel guitar, 12-string guitar, mandola, mandolin

Doug Beaumier - Pedal steel guitar, dobro
Fraidy Katz - Vocal on "Lomir Trakhtn Nor Fun Haynt," back-up vocals
Daniel Lombardo - Percussion
Frank London - Trumpet
Corner Mentos - Steel drum
Brian Mitchell: Accordion, organ
Charles Neville - Saxophones
Jaye Simms - Back-up vocals
Pamela Smith Salavka - Back-up vocals
Beverly Woods - Tsimbl


Purchasing Info:

Goyrl: Destiny can be purchased:
Direct from the artist

From Hatikvah Music International (US)

Worldwide Dist: Koch International
UK Dist: Cargo

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