Kersti Ståbi, Emma Härdelin, Johanna Bölja Hertzberg & Katarina Hallberg
Kärleksbrev och ryska satelliter / Love Letters and Russian Satellites
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cd cover Kersti Ståbi, Emma Härdelin, Johanna Bölja Hertzberg & Katarina Hallberg
Kärleksbrev och ryska satelliter / Love Letters and Russian Satellites
Holmen Music, Sweden / Westpark, Germany

It is not often that a CD features four lead vocalists. This is however the case with this new release that focuses on music from the province of Hälsingland. The producer, Jonas Olsson, saw the need for an album showing the vocal music from the area and therefore gathered four acclaimed singers from the province. Joining them on roughly half of the tracks is a handful of guest musicians, among them Görgen Antonsson and Tomas Lindberg from the instrumental group Draupner.

To prepare for this recording, the singers spent time listening to old recordings and studying transcriptions. The only limitation for their choices appears to be that the material should be from Hälsingland. Hence, it often feels like a compilation - you find large amounts of variation; in the instrumentations, arrangements and voices as well as in the source material, which dates from the 6th century up until today. Fewer musicians, fewer songs or songs from a certain time period or source are limitations that would have strengthened the album by added consistency and direction.

Listen!
It is by no means a bad album. The performers are among the best folk musicians in Sweden and there are many treats to find here. Among them is the beautiful "Driver dagg faller regn" sung by Kersti Ståbi. Her voice is very warm and easily distinguished from the other three. While the others are more direct, Ståbi's singing is calm but still intense, with a strong narrative quality. Emma Härdelin, known from Garmarna and Triakel, sings a number of lively melodies. Her voice is different; coarse and dry but pleasant nonetheless. On "Tar du e Dellboska," the accompanying boys rip it up while Härdelin sings the praises of strong men from Hälsingland; the interplay between singer and musicians is fun. Johanna Bölja-Hertzberg represents an older singing style. "Se fåglarna på dessa gröna kvistar" is fascinating and beautiful, due to its special tonality as well as the singer's nuanced and controlled voice. The youngest member of the quartet is Katarina Hallberg. Her singing is powerful and harbors a humorous twist but doesn't reach up to the originality of the other singers. - Staffan Jonsson

CD available from cdRoots


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