Maria Kalaniemi

Bellow Poetry

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Bellow Poetry has been described as the first album that Maria Kalaniemi recorded without any accompaniment whatsoever, but that description isn't quite accurate. On two of the tracks ("By the Window" and "Cranes of Spring"), the Finnish accordion virtuoso is joined by guitarist Olli Varis (who has appeared on many of her previous releases). But it is accurate to say that Bellow Poetry finds Kalaniemi playing by herself more often that not -- she is unaccompanied on seven of the nine tracks -- and that proves to be a very good thing. The intimate nature of Bellow Poetry works well for the Nordic folk musician; it gives her plenty of room to stretch out. That is not to say that every musician should attempt a largely unaccompanied album; playing without any help from other musicians makes a soloist very exposed -- very vulnerable -- and can really draw attention to his/her flaws and shortcomings. But Kalaniemi is a true pro; she has nothing to hide as a musician, and the vulnerability of performing unaccompanied works to her artistic advantage on melancholy, introspective offerings such as "Salin Hämärissä" ("Dim Light in the Farmhouse"), "Sade"("Rain") and "Så Skimrande Var Aldrig Havet" ("So Shimmering"). Bellow Poetry contains both instrumentals and material with vocals (many of them wordless vocals), but even when Kalaniemi is singing, her accordion playing remains prominent. Although Kalaniemi shows herself to be a capable, pleasing vocalist, her expressive accordion work is the thing she is best known for -- and most of the vocals on this 51-minute CD sound like they are vocals in service of the accordion. It has been obvious for some time that Kalaniemi is an artist of considerable depth, and Bellow Poetry is an additional reminder of that fact.

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