RootsWorld: Home Page LinkRootsWorld: Home Page Link

Villoi Varsa

Nordic Notes (
Review by Andrew Cronshaw

Six years after its first, this Finnish trio’s second album focuses on material from traditional songs and lyrics of Karelians and Veps, Finnic peoples whose homelands straddle the Finnish-Russian border but are now mostly in Russia.

The trio uses an unusual and effective instrumental combination. Jarmo Niemelä’s agile trumpet with Eero Grundström’s harmonium, pumping and skipping in the powerfully energetic tracks like the exuberant “Brihat Hebot,” or almost orchestral on anthemic numbers such as the opener, “Vanusha.” Emmi Kujanpää contributes the ringing chimes of kantele and generally leads the strong blend of their three voices.

Finland’s folk scene, particularly the part of it with Sibelius Academy connections, is a tangled network of musicians criss-crossing between bands. Grundström has more multi-memberships than most, often simultaneously; far too many to list, but currently including Sväng, Suistamon Sähko, Juuri & Juuri and a duo with Maria Kalaniemi.

Listen "Sina Sad/Neditse Le, Nedo" (excerpt)

All three have experience in Balkan, particularly Bulgarian, music; Niemelä was a member of Väärä Raha and Alamaailman Vasarat, and Kujanpää has studied in Plovdiv, her solo album featured members of the youth section of Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares, and she formed Finno-Balkan Voices. That influence shows here in several tracks, particularly track 6 in which a slow Karelian song “Sina Sad” picks up pace and morphs into the traditional Pazardžik “Neditse Le, Nedo,” and in Grundström’s instrumental composition “Tikan Kolo.”

Listen "Työväen Laulu" (excerpt)

“Työväen Laulu” is originally a Russian song which acquired Finnish lyrics and became popular in Finland in the early 20th century as “Vapaa Venäjä,” and to which Grundström has added his own rap. The resulting text, translated to English in the booklet, includes the universal plea:
Drudges of this world, shake off your shackles, emperors won’t care for us any more.
And a little something about the position of the artist, scanning the shops for discount fare.

The album ends with Kujanpää’s slow, yearning love song “Veden Rannalla”:
By the waterside I will wait for you. To the island we’ll row, singing softly.

More to hear:
Maria Kalaniemi and Eero Grundström Svalan
Emmi Kujanpää Nani

Find the trio online.

Search RootsWorld



return to rootsworld

© 2021 RootsWorld. No reproduction of any part of this page or its associated files is permitted without express written permission.






Like What You Read Here?
Support RootsWorld
Please Donate













RootsWorld depends on your support.
Contribute in any amount
and help us carry on.









Support RootsWorld
Please Donate