Socalled is the performing name of Montreal-based composer and multi-instrumentalist Josh Dolgin. His first studio album, “The Socalled Seder,” was literally that–a musical adaptation of the traditional Passover ritual. True to Socalled, the songs on the album were performed in a variety of styles, with artists including country singer Katie Moore, rapper Killah Priest, and Theodore Bikel.
On his new album, Sleepover, Socalled continues his unconventional team-ups–from James Brown’s trombonist to 94-year-old pianist Irving Fields, most famous for recording the ’50s kitsch album Bagels and Bongos.
Sleepover is the least overtly Jewish of Socalled’s output. There’s no single song that’s straightforwardly klezmer or Jewish-identified, unlike his earlier work. (After all, he did write the Yiddish nigun “Ich Bin a Border by Mayn Vayb” ["I Am a Boarder at My Wife's"], as well as the Jewish cowboy ballad “You Are Never Alone.”)
Sleepover is hyperactive and chameleonlike, like Jewish culture itself, yet–also like Jewish culture–Socalled manages to hold onto his own signature style and iconoclastic character.