Zulya - elusive
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cd cover Zulya left her native Volga River region of Central Russia in 1991 to move to Australia. While Down Under, she put out a number of records focusing on her expertise in old Russian and Tatar songs that she has been singing since she was nine years old.

elusive, her latest record, is a U-turn away from the traditional repertoire featured in those early records. The songs are all originals and the instrumentation is far more daring. The result is astonishing.

Zulya has made a recording that is beyond the confines of time. Mixing and matching styles, instruments, influences and languages, Zulya draws on her multicultural experience to create music that is full of humanity, a feminine point of view, modern life experiences and ageless questions.

The lyrics are excellent and they appear in an English translation that is totally comprehensible. There are happy songs and sad ones, but they are never presented in a dogmatic manner, as being the one and only path. Sometimes they are sharp and quite painful in their truth. She sings, 'to be loved/we pretend to be someone we are not' in "Painted Smiles". Others are blissful; in "Insomnia" she says, 'I want to enter your dream/so that I am with you when you are asleep.' There are songs about dreaming of missing the plane ('Late Again'), others about natural phenomena ('Snow is Falling'). Together, they are all facets of that strange yet wonderful beast called life.

My particular favorite and the encapsulation of all those aspects is "yogosizlig" (Insomnia), a song as post-modern as the idea of combining a brass band, a chanson, a waltz and Tuva throat singing all providing support to lyrics of utter joy and the problems of the times. It wriggles its elusive way through its 4 minutes before disappearing, having left an indelible mark on the listener. "If a Bird Lands on Your Palm" combines an elaborate musical background with a simple, heartfelt lyric that speak easily to the heart. "For m.", the final track, is a contemplative song about the end of an affair that is sung with such serenity that it feels as if the two of them are still together. It's probably the one that sounds the most contemporary and the one furthest from the traditional repertoire.

There have been many recordings of late that combine very different musical and cultural backgrounds. The effortless dignity and suaveness that oozes from each of the tracks, the suspension of the time parameter and the wonderful voice of Zulya, combined with musicianship of high quality are the reasons why elusive is among the best of those. - Nondas Kitsos

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Audio ©2004 West Park Music / Zulya; used by permission

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