After the darkly sardonic The Wedding Dance of the Widow Bride, Vancouver's Geoff Berner does us a mitzvah by throwing more of a party on the celebratory Klezmer Dogs. Closing out a powerful trilogy of recordings with violist Diona Davies and percussionist Wayne Adams, which began with 2005's Whiskey Rabbi, Berner's new record is an improbably giddy exploration of miscegenation. The third chapter begins with "Shut in," a plea to a forlorn soul to shed their agita and embrace revelry. If the song is a coaxing invitation, then "Luck in Exile" clarifies why it's important to "celebrate and grieve simultaneously." As usual, Berner's politics are delivered with a razor-sharp grin on the unusually cheery "Half-German Girlfriend," the achingly beautiful "Play, Gypsy, Play," and a somber take on Kris Demeanor's "One Shoe," a powerful ode to Aboriginal abuse by the Saskatoon Police Department. Berner's careful study of klezmer has yielded a catalogue of near-devotional songs to the music, yet his punk-inspired ambivalence about tradition remains clear on "Authentic Klezmer Wedding Band." As he concludes one approach to his craft, there's no telling what's next for Geoff Berner but it's sure to be singularly provocative. - By Vish Khanna - Exclaim Magazine
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