Saturday, 9 July 2016

KARA

CD Review

Some Other Shore


The cut glass crystal voice of Daria Kulesh is back in action with the band Kara for what is a wonderfully eclectic mix of Russian influenced music and folk tunes. Kulesh last tickled our tone buds with her solo album Eternal Child and now she is back surrounded by the talented band which is made up of Phil Underwood, Ben Honey and Kate Rouse.

Phil Underwood, Ben Honey, Kate Rouse and Daria Kulesh
who are Kara. Photograph John Maw
This album carries on with the distinctive sound and story telling they brought us with Waters So Deep.
Put together by Kulesh and Honey her almost operatic singing opens the album with Tamara's Wedding which is coloured in and given that gypsy feel through Underwood on the melodeon and Rouse on the dulcimer. The song is a dark tale of a bride-to-be lured into a darker world and if you think parts of the melody sound familiar then the devil is in the detail.
In contrast, Seaview is about memories, remembered places and how perspectives can be kept alive in the hearts and minds of those who were fortunate to enjoy it. Kulesh's singing takes on a folkier sound and is much softer than her previous offering as she paints a picture of the landscapes she is recalling.
Lover's Tasks/Black Tea Waltz is a wonderfully traditional arrangement of Scarborough Fair which has its roots firmly in the past but comes with modern clothing. Rouse's gorgeous dulcimer introduction and musical strand throughout gives it a real historic atmosphere and the quality of her playing cannot be overstated. Kulesh's voice is as crystal clear and hypnotic as ever.
Another of Kulesh's creations, Goodbye and Forgive Me, is a bread-and-butter folk murder ballad which tells the story of a wife trapped in her marriage and looking for solace in the arms of another who, of course, has to be a scoundrel.
The music box opening, reminiscent of Hedwig's Theme from the Harry Potter films, let's you know Kulesh is drawing the listener into another stage in the worlds she creates so vividly with her singing. The simply accompaniment underneath her voice, as she almost narrates the tale with real drama in her lyrics, give it a poignant and slightly sinister edge.
Adrienne was put together by Honey and is brought in by Underwood's bellows. As you listen to this song you really get a chance to appreciate the subtleties and pinpoint nuances Kulesh can create with her vocals. This is a gentle, ethereal tale of a music fairy and the way it's executed you can imagine an audience enthralled by the tune and singing as they sit on the edge of their seats to take in every word and note.
Daria Kulesh
What follows are two traditional sounding tunes the first of which Hollingbourne has a definite Gallic feel to it and the second Broadhurst Gardens leans more towards the Morris side of dance music. But both are incredibly light pieces that would keep people dancing in the warmth of summer until the wee hours.
The opening of Misery and Vodka could easily be the theme tune to a spy thriller set in a far of land which danger lurks around every corner of numerous exotic locations. It's mood is lifted by Kulesh going native and treating the listener to her cheery and slightly cheeky singing, where you can almost hear the clink of vodka glasses being knocked together in time to the tune.
As a four piece band Kara create atmosphere by the bucketload and with Kulesh' vocal skills emotion comes pouring out of the speakers to give real substance to the people and places she sings about. Carousel Waltz is a perfect example, the subtlety of Underwood's melodeon blends beautifully with the breathy almost sensuous singing of Kulesh.
Stormteller is a great narrative with Kulesh obviously enjoying telling it. It's almost as if she in a race with Honey on guitar as she builds up the atmospherics of nature's energy.
You can almost smell the salt air as Underwood brings in Leigh Fishermen and siren-like Kulesh tells the tale of the trials, hardship and danger fishermen face to fill our plates. The song, dedicated to The Fishermen's Mission, is a cautionary tale to never take for granted where our food comes from.
Honey comes up with a cutting and incisive song about the rich and powerful making decisions behind closed doors which manipulate and in many cases destroy the lives of those to whom they pay little concern,
The new album
It's hard to think of anyone other than Kulesh doing justice to Devilry Dance, you can almost see her strutting around the cigar smoke clad tables of the men in suits with the millions, singing of her contempt for what they do without them even realising it.
For the final track Kulesh again goes native to the background sound of Rouse's dulcimer which sets the atmosphere perfectly. Ataman comes from the proud Cossack tradition and is a ballad arranged by Kulesh. It's a gentle ballad considering the dark content of the lyrics.
Kara are without doubt one of the most creative bands around at the moment, you could almost throw their songs onto a canvas and the artistic creation would gradually appear before your eyes. With Kulesh's lush and emotive singing they create atmospheric scenes to rival any special effects team from Hollywood. They have come from deep waters to land on some other shore and filled the landscape with their incredibly personal sound.


Some Other Shore is out now on the band's own label and available from their website and through download sites.