The second album from Anna Dantchev, the Bulgarian singer who lives in Finland, finds she and her band exploring the theme of courage, a concept that’s not always easy to define. Perhaps aptly, then, it’s an album of surprising twists and turns in music, brimming over with ideas.
That surfeit is evident on the very first track. “Goodbye” shifts quite abruptly from lament to a hyperspeed disco bassline, colored by deep brass that morphs into jazz. It’s quite astonishing, and there’s no doubt the musicians are exceptional, but the track, like the rest of the album, is very much an album of shadowed textures; plenty of darkness without the relief of light, only a few swirls of guitar and xylophone to offer occasional counterpoint.
The styles of the compositions certainly cast their net wide. “Never Again” edges into klezmer territory, while “A White Bird On A Black Sky” is dolorous, held together by sorrow and resting on long brass notes. Given Dantchev’s Balkan roots, it’s only on the last track, “Homecoming Soultchenitsa,” that her homeland peeks through, and much of that is in the arrangements of brass.
The Lions We Are is a sophisticated album in many ways, but one that hides its light under a curious, charming naivete. Better production would give it a fuller sound, and while the bassy/brassy tones seems to be a trademark, more treble colours would give Dantchev a much better setting for her voice.
That said, there’s some oddly addictive about the music here. It keeps drawing the listener back – and that means they’re doing something very right.
Find the artists online.
Dantchev:Domain - Say It (2020)
Karolina Cicha & Spólka - Karaim Music Map
Maher Beauroy - Insula
Photo: Maarit Kytöharju