Zulya and the Children of the Underground - 3 Nights
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Zulya and the Children of the Underground
3 Nights
Westpark Music (www.zulya.com)

Russian expat and current Aussie Zulya Kamalova sings with a smoldering intensity that, even on the more upbeat songs, sounds sultry and seductive. Whether she's singing in Russian, Tatar, or English, her voice has a heavy-lidded, come-hither croon. Her band tosses off cabaret, tango, reggae, jazz, and even a little polka with sprightly ease. The arrangements, shrewdly wrought but never too clever, highlight the band's lush tone colors. Anthony Schultz stands out on accordion, with his sophisticated use of harmony and countermelody. Andrew Tanner and Justin Marshall throw in lots of great percussion tricks such as handclaps, jaw harp, vibraslap, rocks, and bowed finger cymbal. Tanner also plays double bass, and whether bowing or plucking, puts a powerful bottom on things. Lucas Michailidis is light-fingered and inventive on guitar.

Zulya is a gifted wordsmith whatever language she's writing in. The words, though often rich with metaphor, rarely get in the way of the melodies. "Love Hunter" is a torchy waltz with lyrics full of passion and peril. "White Wind Tango" takes the dance down a dark, jazz-shadowed alley. "Clocks" is a breathless, pattery song (sung in Russian) that, true to its title, winds down in the end. "The Night is Long" is a gentle lullaby accompanied by quiet tuba, organ, and bells. With such wit, originality, and deftness, the appeal of 3 Nights will linger much long than that. - Peggy Latkovich

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