Life is beautiful for the women of Israel's HaBanot Nechama

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      HaBanot Nechama translates as “Comfort Girls”, so it might make sense that the Israeli trio of that name exists to give succour to the inhabitants of a state that has been under continuous siege since its inception in 1948.

      That’s not the case, however, according to Yael Deckelbaum. Reached by cellphone while she and bandmates Karolina Avratz and Dana Adini are travelling from New York City to Philadelphia, en route to their first-ever North American show, the singer-guitarist skirts the question of whether HaBanot Nechama is a trio with a mission.

      “To tell you the truth, I don’t really want to get into that,” she says emphatically. “But I can also tell you that in our little bubble in Tel Aviv, first of all, we have a beautiful life. And I think the comfort we have to offer is for everyone, because people feel pain everywhere, not just in Israel.”

      Life has presumably become even more beautiful for Deckelbaum, Avratz, and Adini in the three years since their first and, so far, only CD was released. The self-titled disc—an easy-going mélange of jazzy harmonized singing and soft-focus reggae beats—was an immediate hit at home, selling more than 40,000 copies within a few weeks of its release. This, says Deckelbaum, came as no surprise to the three Girls.

      “We had a feeling that this thing was going to be loved by many people, right from the beginning,” she explains. “And there’s also how it got bigger and bigger along the way. It really grew all the time. We grew with the crowds, and the crowds grew with us, so eventually when we released the record we already had very, very big crowds who already knew all the lyrics to our songs, just from coming to shows. And then it spread in a much wider way.”

      The key, she adds, is that HaBanot Nechama’s three members—all of whom have separate solo careers, Deckelbaum and Avratz as singer-songwriters, Adini as an actor—found an immediate and intuitive bond the moment they first sang together.

      As for the Caribbean rhythms that underpin those breezy vocals, Deckelbaum says that Tel Aviv is home to a lively reggae and dub scene. Less surprising, perhaps, is that the cosmopolitan city is also a hub of anything-goes sonic exploration.

      “A lot of people are making amazing, groovy music,” says Deckelbaum. “And also, all these styles are blending with each other. You can see a reggae band with Balkan influences. It’s all mixing up, and I think that’s going on all over the world. People are taking bits from this and bits from that and everything’s blending—and that’s happening in Israel, too.”

      Can we expect to hear more of this cross-cultural fusion on HaBanot Nechama’s long-awaited second album? Perhaps, says Deckelbaum, although she admits that the three singers are only now starting to talk about returning to the studio. For now, they’re just enjoying the stripped-down acoustic setting of their North American tour as a kind of return to their roots: three women, singing together.

      HaBanot Nechama plays the Norman Rothstein Theatre on Sunday (January 17).




      Jan 19, 2010 at 5:22pm

      Great glorifying prostitution. maybe they should try to work for human rights instead???