Schlager with Balkan flavour
Lapland – Balkan
I fell in love with the first record of Jaakko Laitinen & Väärä Raha, a band which has found something new: a fresh take on combining the Slavic melancholy of Finnish schlager with strong Balkan flavour. Together they work really well – soothing vocals in minor keys meet energetic trumpet riffs.
I’m still not totally convinced by the latest records of this hard-working ensemble. Everything on the new one is well made and quite credible, but I miss the wild, crazy taste of the earlier stuff. Maybe it’s just the taste of new and fresh, which has turned into something old and already heard. The musical balance also seems to give more space to the schlager part, making the music move closer to the mainstream. Jaakko Laitinen has a personal and very recognisable style of singing, but I would have done some extra work with the intonation – it’s often disturbingly low.
Many tracks do still work very well. The intro of Kasa Tuhkaa makes me feel joyful, as does the energetic up-tempo-humppa Kiidä Troikka. My favourite on the new album is definitely Mies menestyvin, where the cimbalom-like swing makes me think of Taraf de Haidouks. Extra points for Matti Pitkänen’s great fiddle riffs on that one.