Much of Possessed is a collaboration with Tony Kushner (the Pulitzer- and Tony-winning playwright of Angels in America). He contributes lyrics to two songs, and the second half of the album was designed as a musical score for his play A Dybbuk: Between Two Worlds (an adaptation of Jewish folk tales by S. An-ski). The marriage of artistic sensibilities is perfect. The Klezmatics' ethos is at once deeply traditional and deeply progressive. Their music is a lively engagement with Jewishness itself, inflecting Eastern European klezmer music with other genres so seamlessly that it seems misleading even to name the other influences (classical, Dixieland, bebop, Middle Eastern folk, modern rock…). Their song catalog includes religious traditionals, but it also includes original Hebraic odes to marijuana and homosexuality. All of which is very much in line with Kushner's endless quest to sort out his own disparate influences as a gay, Jewish, democratic-socialist, Louisiana-born, New York-adopted artiste.
This collection of contemporary Jewish music ranges from klezmer and traditional songs to a more adult contemporary pop sound, but the thread of soulful, passionate performances runs throughout. The hilarious "Chicken," courtesy of Kapelye, contrasts with Savina Yannatou's stark, almost classical take on "El Sueño de la Hija del Rey," but both burn with the fiery urgency that music from the Jewish culture seems to exude so naturally.