In recent years, Latvian songwriter Dinārs Gulbis has distinguished himself as one of the most notable songwriters in Latvia. He released his debut album, Es nezinu kāds ir īsākais ceļš pie tevis in 2015, and the album was nominated for the ‘Best Songwriter’ award at the Zelta mikrofons awards. Gulbis, with his distinctive, world-weary voice and dramatic song interpretations, has established himself as a premiere artistic talent.
Gulbis returned in 2018 with his second album Kad, which continues his songwriting and musical career, with both new songs and both well-known, as well as rarely-heard, Latvian songs. On the album, Gulbis is joined by guitarists Kaspars Zemītis and Reinis Jaunais, bass guitarist Lauma Kazaka, and drummer Ivars Logins.
One of Gulbis’ main goals in his performances is to bring Latvian poetry vividly to life. One example is the nocturnal ode ‘Gājēji pusnaktī’, a song with poetry by Austra Skujiņa, full of imagery of a stroll on a dark evening. Gulbis’ music for this song, as well as his vocal performance, creates captivating imagery. As Gulbis sings phrases like ‘Uz jumtiem mēness raksta dzejas un klusos namos spoki klīst’ (The moon writes poetry on the roofs and ghosts wander the quiet houses), he transports the listener to this dark terrain.
As on his first album, Gulbis’ wife Daiga Gulbe also provides poetry for his songs – on the introspective ‘Ceļš uz sevi’, the title track ‘Kad’, as well as the deeply personal ‘Par mums’, a tender song of love and relationship growth, with phrases like ‘mirkli esam viens otra elpa’ (we are briefly each other’s breath).
In a nod to his influences, Gulbis also provides his version of what is one of the best known and beloved dramatic songs, ‘Atzīšanas’ (also known as ‘Miglā asaro logs’), with lyrics by poet Aleksandrs Čaks. Čaks’ evocative text, with its unrequited longing and sorrow and phrases like ‘Laikam asinīs manās savas lūpas tu mērc’ (you drench your lips with my blood), along with the melancholy melody, has inspired generations of singers and musicians. Gulbis has noted that Čaks was one of his main inspirations to begin his songwriting career, and one can sense this in Gulbis’ intimate and emotional performance of this song of the personal nature of this song.
‘Atzīšanas’ is one of a triptych of Čaks songs that Gulbis performs – the other two being the equally well known ‘Liepas satumst’, as well as the slightly less familiar ‘Lepnai sievietei (Melnais vīns)’. For both, Gulbis captures the essence of Čaks’ texts, enhancing the mood and atmosphere of Čaks’ poetry with his vocal style.
Over the course of the eighteen songs on his second album Kad, Dinārs Gulbis continues to develop and build upon the sound and atmosphere of his debut album. Threaded with melancholy, longing and sorrow, the album’s brooding performances are engaging and memorable. Of course, some listeners may find that the album, with its often slow and sad songs, to be perhaps a bit morose at times, but for others, the music and vocals will be calming and engrossing. Gulbis displays his innate ability to bring Latvian poetry vividly to life, creating almost theatrical performances, and his singular talent is on full display on Kad.
Lauska, LAUSKACD081, 2018
- Ceļš uz sevi
- Dzīva daļa
- Dziesma (par talantiem)
- Gājēji pusnaktī
- Ķēniņa Tālivalža dziesma
- Par mums
- Par piedošanu
- Par zelta pīlīti
- Šis lapu laiks
- Vibrācija un skaņa
- Liepas satumst
- Lepnai sievietei (Melnais vīns)
- Atzīšanās (Miglā asaro logs)
- Visskaistākās ogas pasaulē