Arts & Culture

Album Review: Girls In Trouble (Self Titled)

I have to admit, I’ve been a little emo for the past three weeks. I can’t help it. The roller coaster of Rosh Hashanah dinners, heartfelt atonement, building the sukkah, pretty Jewish girls, the stress of my day job, the … Read More

By / October 7, 2009

I have to admit, I’ve been a little emo for the past three weeks. I can’t help it. The roller coaster of Rosh Hashanah dinners, heartfelt atonement, building the sukkah, pretty Jewish girls, the stress of my day job, the spectre of Hanukkah on the horizon, demands of PunkTorah, the pressure to study and pray every day and managing to have some kind of life that doesn’t completely file me under a tragically Jewish stereotype…well, it all adds up. Luckily, my new friend Alicia Jo Rabins, violinist from Golem and the frontwoman for Girls In Trouble (JDub Records) wrote the most beautiful album I have heard since…well, I can’t remember. And I’ve been using my advance copy of the self-titled record (thanks JDub PR!) to help me move into 5770 without having a complete meltdown.

So pardon me if this interview is a little "touchy feely."

I started our conversation with a complaint: that when you have to write a press release about an artist and their material, you can never really capture the emotion behind what they do. Pretty sentimental, right? OK, let’s keep going. Alicia agreed, saying that emotion is a "big part of [her] art…and that’s where [her] spiritual essence is." Alicia wishes that she could just explain her music to everyone, in person. Continuing on emotion, Alicia made an interesting connection for me between her classical training and her predisposition for being intense and passionate. "Because I was trained as a classical musician…there’s this beautiful relationship between the most emotional part of me and the most technical, practical side of me…this is a part of the process, even if you are making industrial thrash music." Working with her now-husband Aaron Hartman (mazel tov, you crazy kids!) from Old Time Relijun (K Records), Alicia put together an indie-folk album that asks the question "what would it sound like if the girls of the Bible started an indie rock band?" Alicia calls it "musical midrash" and actually drew upon her yeshiva training to fully digest the thoughts and emotions of each character represented in her songs. My favorite song, "I Was A Desert", is an exploration into the psyche of Tamar. As Alicia put it, the "intense alone moments that feel somehow universal." This album is Jewish, and ultimately it is about the Torah, but the music is an effortless blend of Appalachian folk with French cinematic undertones, plucky NY anti-folk, San Francisco acoustic coffee shop dreams and Alicia’s innocent and road-weary voice. It begs the question: what the hell is Jewish music, anyway? "I enjoy challenging assumptions," says Alicia. She goes on to say that the rabbis who wrote Midrash were the real artists of their day. The music is also a question of integrating multiple personal identities. Alicia loves Jewish education, genre-defying music, poetry and performance. For Alicia, Girls In Trouble is a life changing synthesis of these. Ultimately, this isn’t about Jewishness and music. "The big picture…[is] about me as a world artist," says Alicia. So here’s what you do: buy Girls In Trouble’s S/T album when it comes out on 10/26. Then pour a bath full of hot water and fragrant herbs, turn off all the lights, slip into the tub, say a small prayer and listen to the soul of the Schekinah come through your iPod and into your heart.