- Cloud Valley Music website -
- Andrew Cronshaw website -

- Andrew Cronshaw MySpace -

- Back to Reviews Introduction page -

Written in fRoots issue 294, 2007

Orkla Bolss – The Voice Of A Plough

UPE UPEAMCD 005 (2006)

There is a time, I reckon, in the drawing of a country’s attention to its traditional music, when a good burst of singy-dancey folk-rock, done by musicians with real feeling for the tradition with a competent and sympathetic rhythm section, can be just what’s needed. It’s a phase that passes, and rock is hardly a novel pop flavour, but in a country such as Latvia, just sixteen years from its independence and now in the EU, with its youth, as in neighbouring Estonia, exploring who they are, indigenous folk music has considerable significance, and it’s probably the moment to bring it on strong, with quieter moments that say “and now we have your attention, we’d like you to listen to this”.
      (Abroad too, it’s often the ‘progressive’ treatment of roots that gets the attention for a country’s traditional music; it was, for example, the rocky track on Latvian folk band Ilgi’s last album that probably got it into the European World Music chart).
      Laimas Muzykanti’s CD won’t be the peak of Latvian roots music, but it shows what’s stirring. Apart from guitar, bass and drums, instrumentation includes, from time to time, fiddle, accordion and touches of kokle, bagpipes and shepherd’s horn. Beginning with rousing partyish sing-and-bash-alongs with fuzzing electric guitar and improvising fiddle in a couple of songs (which are, like most here, from the eastern Latvian region of Latgale), the first about, it appears, a lark brewing beer, the second about Gypsy horse-traders, for the third track it settles down with soft female vocals to draw the listener into the more serene approach that is typical of much Latvian folk music, and throughout the album continues to alternate more folk-rocking with quieter, atmospheric treatments.
      The ‘hidden track’, a female acapella harmony vocal, is worth letting the final track run for, and there’s a video clip, a nicely shot, gently-handled little contemporary love story of a kokle player who tries to make it in the modern city, but returns to his village and his girl.
      UPE, the main label releasing Latvian roots music, with elegant packaging and notes in English, has an online store, with very reasonable prices, at www.upe.lv.

© 2007 Andrew Cronshaw

You're welcome to quote from reviews on this site, but please credit the writer and fRoots.

fRoots -
The feature and review-packed UK-based monthly world roots music magazine in which these reviews were published, and by whose permission they're reproduced here.

It's not practical to give, and keep up to date, current contact details and sales sources for all the artists and labels in these reviews, but try Googling for them, and where possible buy direct from the artists.
CDRoots.com in the USA, run by Cliff Furnald, is a reliable and independent online retail source, with reviews, of many of the CDs in these reviews; it's connected to his excellent online magazine Rootsworld.com 

For more reviews click on the regions below

NORDIC        BALTIC        IBERIA (& islands)   



- Back to Reviews Introduction page -