It is a new reading of folklore that has in a sense passed through Béla Bartók and John Cage. Mari Kalkun is not only impressive by her creative energy, but also by her voice, which ranges from maternal depth to elf-like heights.
One of the finest examples of this pandemic wave yet is Mari Kalkun’s new collection of songs called “Õunaaia Album”, or „Apple Orchard Album”. For Mari Kalkun, the stripped-down sound would never be an obstacle. Contrary, “Õunaaia Album” is even more intimate than Mari’s earlier releases, and the lyrics – in Estonian and Võro language – delve into “the relationship between humans and nature”.
Gentle, dignified and utterly beautiful. As a singer, writer and instrumentalist, Kalkun is a musician whose work is a jewel in the crown of the rich Estonian scene.
Kalkun’s singing is at the heart of things; joyous and lamenting by turns, but always poised and melodious, her poeticism apparent even without translation. A magical creation.
Gorgeously intimate record. There’s nothing rushed about the music here. It unfolds gently, enfolding the listener, caressing and inviting and taking flight. Supremely honest music, joyful, dark, aching and smiling.
There is wonderful musicality and beauty in each of the backdrops, but it is Kalkun’s vocals that propel these songs. The singing is often soft yet always intense, emotive without lapsing into sappiness, somehow bridging a chasm between soothing touch and a visceral rawness. Even for those of us who speak nary a word of Estonian, these songs are compelling and engrossing.
“Ilmamõtsan” has an ancient, timeless quality to it that is difficult to imitate and downright impossible to replicate. Combining folk traditions with innovative songwriting, Mari Kalkun is one of the most forward-looking folk artists today.
Ilmamõtsan is an exquisite, heartfelt album. Language is no barrier to being won over by its particular magic.
Mari Kalkun’s “Ilmamõtsan” is political. It is also beautiful, and features 12 songs with haunting, unforgettable melodies sung in a crystalline yet forceful voice.
Mari shares her personal and intimate stories in a soft, yet compelling voice, singing of the power or the soul and nature. She has a warm and sunny disposition. And warmth is something that we never have quite enough at this latititude.
Modern-day kinship and a national heritage; local woods and a sprawling world. Experiences both private and public are folded into an imaginary space, one that survives in a rustic corner of Estonia, far from the clamorous workings of modern industry. And so - as a sonic expression of that ideal - everything here is very quiet indeed
For a small country, Estonia has been punching above its weight recently. Accomplished artists are emerging with a strong feel and knowledge of their musical roots, but also the determination and imagination to create something new from them. Like singer-songwriter Mari Kalkun.
Kalkun’s music is very much about negotiating and exploring the tension of opposites. The traditional and modern, home and the road, the solo artist and the band member. It’s a wandering and a return.
Tii ilo is very much a musical collaboration. It’s also a dearing experiment in runosong, erasing the line between the past and the modern singer-songwriter, with a chance for the players to let the material breathe and grow. The four personalities have a natural chemistry that mesher to create something inspired by history yet sounding absolutely contemporary. A reinvention of the runosong, if you like.