Markéta Irglová

Muna

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The second solo outing from the Czechoslovakian singer/songwriter who rose to fame in 2007 after winning a Best Original Song Oscar for "Falling Slowly" (co-written with Frames singer Glen Hansard under the Swell Season moniker), Muna utilizes the talents of 27 musicians (choir, strings, orchestral percussion) and was inspired by, according to Irglová, Jesus Christ Superstar and author Neale Donald Walsch's book trilogy Conversations with God. Muna, which means "remembering" in Icelandic, is a gospel record through and through, but it also reflects the rugged natural beauty of the land in which it was birthed. Produced with great warmth by Irglová's partner Sturla Mio Thorisson, the 11-track collection begins and ends with the choir incantation "You can have whatever you can dream of," and that simple edict of hope forms the basis, at least ideologically, for everything that lies in between. Lyrically, Muna reads a bit like scripture, even going so far as to intone The Lord's Prayer on the stark and stoic "Without a Map," and the album's unwavering religiosity makes for a rather overly serious listen, especially if one doesn't share the same spiritual persuasion. That said, it's a musically rich audio tome that rarely overplays its hand, despite the fact that it took a small army to create it, and standout cuts like "Point of Creation" and "The Leading Bird," with their hymn-like group vocals, gentle strings, and soft piano, emit a monastic aura that is undeniably comforting.

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