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(45:21; Daria Kulesh)
Daria was put in touch with me by the wonderful Elfin Bow, and in her first email she said “It’s difficult to capture my music in a few words, but I’d describe it as a bold fusion of cultures and styles - my Russian and Ingush (see: North Caucasus) heritage is mixed with English and Celtic folk influences, unique and rich family history and a turbulent journey through life. Storytelling plays a crucial part in my songwriting and live performances. True life tales are intertwined with folklore and magic.” I put on the album and was entranced by the highly paced quite Russian sounding opener, “Golden Apples”, and felt her professional trained voice to be quite spectacular. She has a strong clear sound, and I soon discovered she has the amazing ability to blend her approach so she can come across as Russian, Scottish, or as English as they come. This is particularly true in the incredibly delicate take on “The Quiet Joys of Brotherhood”. This was originally a poem by Richard Farina which he set to the Irish air “My Lagan Love”, and while it was recorded by others prior to Fairport Convention, and indeed since, it is another song which will always be associated with the incredible Sandy Denny. Starting with vey gentle accompaniment, this song relies totally on the voice, which is front and centre with just gentle reverb. Given how revered this song is, it takes someone incredibly confident to take it on, and as the accordion gradually comes in on the second verse everything feels perfect. I once travelled from one side of the world to the other to see Fairport Convention perform (literally), and it safe to say I have been a fan for more than two thirds of my lifetime, but her rendition is faultless and even to someone who has played Sandy’s version as many times as I have, there is something here which makes it very special indeed. There are times when she reminds me of Richard Thompson in her approach, and the songs sometimes sound as if they are straight from the tradition while others are more light-hearted and fun. She switches arrangements so some songs may have percussion, some may have piano, some may have fiddle, some accordion, but at all times her voice is front and centre. Apparently this is her third album, and I am amazed I haven’t come across her before now (one of the issues of being on the wrong side of the world and not getting music mags down here very often), but this album is simply awesome and I look forward very much to discovering her back catalogue. Daria Kulesh is very much a name to make note of, and ‘Earthly Delights’ an album which should be in every music lovers’ collection.
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