The debut album of kantele player and singer-songwriter Marjo Smolander is an interesting combination of different musical collaborations. The connecting thought is her singing and her personal songs, and you can feel musical ingredients both from her home region Carelia (the vocals sounding almost Värttinä-like) and from Africa, especially Mali and Senegal, where she has studied at several occasions.
The songs are mostly in Finnish with words speaking frankly about life, especially about motherhood. There are touching thoughts of forgiving and longing, but also moments of hate and going totally crazy. Sometimes Smolander also turns anguish into something sounding actually quite fun, as in the sparkling Myöhästytään elämästä (Late for life).
In between moments of crisis are soothing instrumental songs with the kantele in the centre of it all. The instrument is especially well-known for its smooth magic sounds but here it is also played in a very rhythmical way.
Africa is present on the record via many of the collaborating musicians, for example the kora played by Dawda Jobarteh (Gambia/Denmark) and the tama drum played by Yatma Thiam (Senegal). A special guest is Tuareg musician Ahmed ag Kaedy (Mali), who has also co-written the opening song Ténéré. But as a contrast to the African colours, the Nordic violin sounds of Eliza Boye Mouritsen (Denmark) are perfect in Sirkkala, where Smolander sings about her childhood landscapes.
MARJO SMOLANDER: COSMOLOGIES
Marjo Smolander (kantele, vocals, compositions, lyrics)
Eliza Boye Mouritsen (violin, vocals, percussions)
Ahmed ag Kaedy (guitar, vocals)
Mikko Hassinen (percussions)
Dawda Jobarteh (kora)
Macodou Samb (bongo)
Jenni Hanikka (bass, alto and sopranino recorders, vocals, diz)
Yatma Thiam (sabar, tama, tassou)
Babacar Faye (sabar, tama)