At this point of her career, Maria Kalaniemi equals quality. The accordion queen has been around for 30 years but still continues to impress, now concentrating very much on singing as well. She has a pure and lyrically expressive voice, with a fine legato, keeping the long lines even when the instruments are pumping the rhythm underneath. Kalaniemi sings in her mother tongue, Swedish, even presenting some well-known tango tunes with Swedish translations. And the accordion sounds as fresh, emotional and lively as ever.
At her side this time is Eero Grundström at the harmonium. Both share a strong intensity in their music-making and the instruments are an interesting match – alike but still different. His love for Balkan music is elegantly woven into the whole, where tunes from very different backgrounds meld together nicely. Guest musicians Pekko Käppi (jouhikko) and Mikko Kosonen (electric guitar) add extra spice.
Nature is a strong theme on Svalan (‘The Swallow’), with a CD booklet full of nature photography. Check out the videos too: my favourite is the combination of the suggestive Jepu minuet with a wild wolverine.