Ruth Mackenzie

Kalevala: Dream of the Salmon Maiden

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The tale of the Kalevala, the myth of a maiden who assumes the form of a salmon as resistance against marriage to a great magician, is one that has not only had its roots in Scandinavia, but also in Eskimo and some Native American cultures. Ruth MacKenzie and a large group of excellent performers bring the tale to life on record, adapting the story along with various pieces of traditional Finnish music, mixing this with original music and lyrics. MacKenzie has a soaring, distinct voice that suits this kind of rough-edged music very well, and has the ability to bring both that rawness and an operatic quality to her performance -- uncannily, though she is singing in English, it is possible to end up convinced that she is actually singing in Finnish. Musically, while the production utilizes traditional instruments and melodies, the performances and arrangements are very much contemporary folk-rock-style, with bass and drums front and center in support. Overall excellent, engaging, and challenging work.

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