The women’s a capella singing ensemble Latvian Voices has become one of Latvia’s best known musical exports – performing worldwide, and enrapturing audiences and listeners with their beautiful singing and soaring harmonies. The group, who will celebrate their 10th anniversary in December 2019, also recently organized their own vocal festival in Valmiera, Latvia. Their most recent album (their seventh) – Sudrabs (or ‘Silver’) was released in 2018, and the singers on the album are Laura Jēkabsone, Laura Leontjeva, Zane Stafecka, Beāte Locika, Marta Lortkipanidze, Dita Belicka and Elīna Ose.
According to the group, the title Sudrabs was chosen because ‘Silver is a very versatile material … silver is often associated with human emotional and spiritual maturity’, which is appropriate, considering the maturity displayed throughout the album.
Latvian folk songs continue to be an essential element of the ensemble’s repertoire, and the selections on Sudrabs reconfirm their innate ability to interpret and perform these songs, even in markedly different styles than the originals. There is the exuberant energy of ‘Kad es gāju tauteņos’ and ‘Es par bēdu nebēdāju’, and the playfulness of ‘Aiz upītes es uzaugu’, with its jazzy interlude in the middle. The group also offer their version of one of the most beautiful folk songs from Latgale, ‘Kur gaismeņa zyla ause’, a song about a man courting a young girl, but her family is reluctant for her to leave the homestead, but she insists she is ready to go. Though a lovely interpretation, the group has inserted unrelated verses into the song, which slightly distract from the story.
Though not a folk song, ‘Piekūns skrien debesīs’, originally performed by the group Jauns mēness, receives a similarly reverent interpretation, bringing forth the mystical and spiritual aspects of this song, creating a kind of hypnotic meditation.
The group also continue to display their abilities to compose new music as well – Jēkabsone proves to be an accomplished songwriter with songs like ‘Sudraba mēness’, ‘August Clouds’ (lyrics by Jānis Strazdiņš), and ‘In Time of Silver Rain’ (lyrics by American poet Langston Hughes), with the vocal performances providing a memorable musical interpretation of this poem of rebirth.
Though their arrangements and performance of well known pop songs like Seal’s ‘Kiss from a Rose’ and Cyndi Lauper’s ‘True Colors’ are impeccable, one does get a feeling that perhaps a capella versions of these once ubiquitous songs might not have been necessary. Still, that is balanced out with their achingly beautiful arrangement of Coldplay’s ‘Fix You’, which even enhances the original – no mean feat, considering how big a hit the song was for the band. The melancholy, though hopeful song, reaches an emotional climax with the voices reproducing the fifths of the guitar solo in the original, and, with just their voices, create a moving version of this cathartic song.
Combining their mastery of singing with both popular songs and Latvian folk songs, Sudrabs is a remarkable achievement. With their soaring voices, engrossing arrangements, and singular talent, the women of Latvian Voices confidently show their ability and skill over a variety of styles and genres, making for a transcendent and emotionally rich listen.
For further information, please visit the Latvian Voices website.
- Kad es guoju tauteņos
- Es par bēdu nebēdāju
- Aiz upītes es uzaugu
- Kur gaismeņa zyla ause
- Piekūns skrien debesīs
- Sudraba mēness
- August Clouds
- Kiss from a Rose
- In Time of Silver Rain
- True Colors
- Life is a Game
- Fix You
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