Latvian-Azerbaijani singer’s collection of lullabies meditative, soothing

LEILALI, or Leila Alijeva, is a singer, songwriter and arranger of both Latvian and Azerbaijani descent. LEILALI performs in meditative and calming style, fusing both Latvian and world elements into her songs. Her first album, Samtainā tumsa (or ‘Glowing Dreams’) was released in 2018, and is a collection of lullabies inspired by the music of many different world cultures.

As the title and song list would indicate (all the songs have either ‘dream’ or ‘lullaby’ in their titles), this will be a very placid and reserved collection of songs, all of which are quiet, even fragile – a kind of meditation or calm reflection. The artist describes the songs as being ‘full of unconditional love, care and acceptance to calm and support the soul’. On the album, Alijeva is joined by storyteller Inin Nini, guitarist and clarinetist Viesturs Melders, and Laura Melne performing additional instruments.

The artist also indicates the inspiration for each of the works, such as ‘Invocation of Dreams’, which was inspired by South American ceremonies and traditions. The minimalist performance, with just a few, sparse notes from the guitar and a repeated mantra of ‘nei nei nei’ brings the listener to a trance like state, the first step in the journey to the dream world.

‘God’s Lullaby’ begins with night sounds, which then leads into an a cappella chant, inspired by the indigenous South American tribe the Yaminawá, which then leads into a plaintive melody combined with a whispered Latvian child’s lullaby, which then gradually dissipates at the end of the song.

‘Lullaby from the Soul of the East’ begins a four song sequence that is inspired by lullabies from the four corners of the Earth, beginning with a song inspired by ancient Persian wisdom. The CD booklet contains little information about what LEILALI is actually singing about, which certainly adds to the mysteriousness of the performances, but one does occasionally wish that she added a bit more information about the inspiration for the songs, if not a translation of the words.

‘Lullaby from the Soul of the West’ then follows, inspired by a Native American song, and is a shamanistic song backed by rhythmic, pulsating drumming. ‘Lullaby from the Soul of the South’ has Balkan elements, combined with a whispered Latvian text, is accented with a mournful clarinet melody.

Latvian elements can be heard in the concluding song, ‘Lullaby from the Soul of the North’. With folk song quotations, along with a slow tolling of a gentle bell, the song then reaches a crescendo (which, for this album, is a very reserved crescendo), with the repeated refrain of ‘visapkārti-i gaisma ausa’ (the light dawned all around), and then floats off into a dreamy state at its conclusion.

LEILALI’s Samtainā tumsa is a soothing and immersive listen, at once deeply spiritual and pensive. Even though it is a quiet and reserved, the explorations of lullabies with world elements provides for a peaceful and relaxing journey.

For further information, please visit the LEILALI Facebook site.

Samtainā tumsa


Lauska 2018

  1. Invocation of Dreams
  2. Dream Ceremony
  3. Lullaby from the Heart
  4. God`s Lullaby
  5. Mother Earth`s Lullaby
  6. Lullaby from the Soul of the East
  7. Lullaby from the Soul of the West
  8. Lullaby from the Soul of the South
  9. Lullaby from the Soul of the North

Egils Kaljo is an American-born Latvian from the New York area . Kaljo began listening to Latvian music as soon as he was able to put a record on a record player, and still has old Bellacord 78 rpm records lying around somewhere.

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