Tautumeitas Dziesmas No Aulejas – Songs From Auleja
Artist release / CPL Music
Review by Chris Nickson
"For what did you raise me, mother?"
Some albums are labors of love, or occasionally at least, a mix of love and academia. On Songs From Auleja, the six women who make up Tautumeitas give their own take on a particular strand of Latvian traditional music. It’s an homage to the singing of Aulejas Sievas (Women from Auleja), who come from a single village in the eastern Latgale part of the country and have been keepers of one of their country’s oldest vocal traditions – one that differs markedly from elsewhere in Latvia in both its melodic style and the type of harmony.
Tautumeitas member Asnate Rancãne studied the music of Auleja in depth for her degree dissertation, making field recordings, talking to villagers and singers. One thing she needed to do to obtain her degree was put on a concert of the music – an event which first brought together several members of Tautumeitas. So, in some ways, their own roots lie in this music. too.
"The Bleak Autumn Is Coming"
The nature of it is that this is decidedly niche, but by God, it’s powerful and invigorating. The voices sparkle – just listen to “The Bleak Autumn Is Coming” as an example, with the melody like a short, sharp, glistening shock, or the sweet lilt of the closing track, “In A Green Garden.”
"In A Green Garden"
It’s not a long disc, clocking in at just 28 minutes, and that’s a pity, more certainly wouldn’t have seemed like excess at all. While this might be a bit of a detour for Tautumeitas, a change of focus, it certainly burnishes their folk credentials. More than that, it shows their ability to convincingly and passionately take on a unique singing style; as well as the depth of their love for the music of Latvia. With this, they’re helping those women from Auleja go global and to keep a strand of Latvian folk music alive. – Chris Nickson