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O Little Town of East New York

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Album Review

O Little Town of East New York combines narrative spoken-word text with evocative background music, both echoing the Jewish experience in a working-class section of Brooklyn. The combination of storytelling and electronic music is reminiscent of the work of Laurie Anderson, but Shelley Hirsch's storytelling lacks Anderson's dry humor or sense of irony. This semi-autobiographical work is deeply personal. While at times it seems to mimic those tired recollections that an unpopular relative might offer up again and again at the family dinner table, Hirsch does a good job of presenting not only her own family history, but the history of her neighborhood — its poverty, changing racial climate, diversity, sounds, and smells as well as the hopes of the people around her. Hirsch stretches herself now and again on this album, with unusual samples and altered voices; the result mostly works well.


Born: 1952 in New York, NY

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

Vocalist Shelley Hirsch composes, improvises, and stages musical works in venues all over North America and Europe. She was born in East New York, Brooklyn, in 1952, and lived there until the age of 17. A three time artist-in-residence at STEIM (Amsterdam) and at Harvestworks/Studio PASS in New York, she also lived and worked in Berlin due to a DAAD fellowship. Hirsch appears on over 25 CDs, including her solo and duo recording, Singing, and releases...
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O Little Town of East New York, Shelly Hirsch
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