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Reviewed: Charming Hostess, “The Bowls Project”


Charming Hostess is the musical Brainchild of Jewlia Eisenberg and her most recent record, "The Bowls Project" comes courtesy of John Zorn’s Tzadik label.  To anybody familiar with the label/projects background, you know that the labels brand of "Radical Jewish Culture" can sometimes churn out "really terrible music" or "brilliant shit".  In this particular case, "The Bowls Project" features seventeen songs with lyrics constructed from passages found inscribed in ancient Demon Bowls that people in the 6th century used to capture demons, so if you wanted to turn back now, I wouldn’t blame you, but hold off a second.

I like this record.  That’s right, despite the fact that it hits so many of my musical pet peeves (wondering what instruments are being played, fusion of different sounds from different times and places, a different album from track to track).  No matter how much I fought it, this record won me over. 

Even though she drastically changes her style on every track, she handles each style like a pro.  Whether she’s getting all Manowar-Epic-Metal-style on, "Bound and Turned Aside" or "Demon Lover" or channeling Loretta Lynn on "Dying Bed," it works.  She’s got a powerful voice that’s reminiscent of Amanada Palmer, and isn’t afraid to fully immerse herself in whatever style she’s working with.

Whether the subject matter is gimmicky or not doesn’t matter; it needs to stand alone musically, and Jewlia Eisenberg does a fine job of that. 

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