The singer James Levy’s deep rumbling voice and thoughtful lyrics strongly remind us of Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen. He and his band, The Blood Red Rose, recently released their first album, Pray to Be Free. It includes the song “Precious Age of 13,” an ode to, of all things, Levy’s bar mitzvah.
The song starts off with a short blast of klezmer horns, then jumps–quickly but naturally– into an acoustic rhumba mix of organ and flamenco guitar. It’s addictive, catchy and danceable. “You think I’m a boy, but I’m more than I seem,” he sings. “You claim I’m a man, but I’m something in between.” The song straddles that magnificent liminal stage, familiar from young-adult novels and the best aspects of the Harry Potter films. It’s hyperaware of the limits of teenagerhood, but simultaneously entranced by them.