The music of Pharaoh's Daughter is many things but it is not jazz, at least not as we usually think of it. Leader, singer, and acoustic guitarist Basya Schechter described the group's sound in the Village Voice last year as "a mix of Middle Eastern and West African and Jewish and folk and pop and rock." That said, this blend as shown on Out of the Reeds should appeal to many jazz fans.
The group comes out of the vibrant downtown music scene in New York City that has produced groups like the Klezmatics and Hasidic New Wave which have reinvented traditional Jewish musical styles by fusing them with jazz and rock. Pharaoh's Daughter differs from a number of performers in this milieu in that the group does not focus use klezmer as their primary Jewish musical influence. Furthermore there is an earnest quality to almost all of the group's music. While many "new Jewish music" acts are full of irony, there are no such traces as Schechter sings texts taken from Ecclesiastes and Exodus. Still Gentiles and non-observant Jews won't feel uncomfortable with music unless they know Hebrew or Yiddish 'the languages used on Out of the Reeds.
And most people who give it a try will be able to relate to the music. The previously mentioned Schechter has a beautiful voice that shines in some rather layered and thick vocal arrangements between her and band mates Jen Gilleran, Benoir, Martha Colby, and Tracey Love-Wright. Equally impressive is Schechter's guitar work which shows an occasional hint of the delta blues sound amidst the previously mentioned influences. This is far from a one-woman show, however, as the rest of the group contributes greatly. Percussionist Jarrod Cagwin plays in a complimentary fashion for most of the disc but his use of different instruments and tones from each instrument is superb and should catch the ear of many listeners. Flutist and clarinetist Love-Wright also stands out with lines that run the gamut of emotions from fearful to angry to happy. Her flute work compliments the music as a whole which expresses varied moods and should leave listeners quite satisfied.