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Written in Folk Roots issue 143, 1995

Erdenklang 40772 (1994)

Kirile Loo is a singer from Estonia, whose language and musical traditions have much in common with those of Finland. Partly because of her country’s economic situation its traditional music isn’t very available on CD, and indeed this album is licensed to a German label. The lyrics are traditional, the stark tunes are largely written or developed from traditional sources by Peeter Vähi and Loo, whose singing has an appealing clear-eyed quality, simultaneously strident and soft, without vibrato and with an almost African-sounding tendency to dip in pitch at the end of phrases. It reaches out from sparse arrangements featuring Tuule Kann’s kannel, Igor Tônurist’s jew’s harp and straw whistle, Margus Rahuoja’s bagpipe and reed pipe, with Peter Finger’s guitar and Peeter Vähi on keyboards and percussion (which includes the traditional lokk, a “wooden gong” which sounds just like what it is, a struck lump of wood, but which has intriguing similarities to the Basque txalaparta).
      On the cover there’s a painting of one of the circular stone labyrinths found on the coasts of the Baltic and Gulf of Bothnia; this album has much of the seductive different-ness to be found in the music of the countries behind those shorelines.

© 1995 Andrew Cronshaw

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