Music Review: “Viena,” Värttinä

The Finnish folk group Värttinä has been a major player in the world music scene for over 30 years. “Viena” marks their fourteenth album, and it is a beautiful combination of both old and new.

The lineup of singers has always been a constant evolution for Värttinä, from the band’s early days as a 15-singer children’s vocal group to the three-women trio of recent years. Folk singer and ethnomusicologist Karoliina Kantelinen is a new addition to the group. Her voice blends perfectly with the other two singers, Mari Kaasinen and Susan Aho. Continue reading

Music Review: “Revitty Rakkaus,” Kuunkuiskaajat

The Finnish folk-rock duo Kuunkuiskaajat has just released their second album, a crowd-funded project titled Revitty Rakkaus. I first started following the duo of Susan Aho and Johanna Hytti from their time with the band Värttinä.

For any Värttinä fans who haven’t heard Kuunkuiskaajat’s music yet, it’s well worth checking out. With a generally light and folksy sound, Susan and Johanna’s voices interweave like a dance, punctuated by Susan’s masterful accordion playing.

This album has perhaps a bit less of a “traditional” sound than their first album, as most of the tracks feature strong modern percussion. The upbeat tracks, like “Kaupungilla” and “Polttaa,” usually feature Susan as the lead vocal, while the slower, ballad-like tracks such as “Unelmaa” and “Elämä Kantaa” let Johanna’s voice shine.

In listening to this album, I was reminded that while Finland is usually grouped in with the rest of Scandinavia, musically they seem to belong more with Eastern Europe. To my Western-trained ear, tracks like “Salakavala” and the title track “Revitty Rakkaus” held the rhythms and sounds of Eastern lands. The entire album is a beautiful blending of East and West, and traditional and modern.

Whether you’re a fan of Värttinä, Eastern European folk music, or you can’t even find Finland on a map, I encourage you to give Kuunkuiskaajat a listen!

Kuunkuiskaajat’s website (in Finnish)

Kuunkuiskaajat on Facebook