KARA - “… spirited acoustic folk with a Russian twist”(September 24, 2013)
A tall young lady approached me at Folkstock, asked if I would listen to her band KARA and offered their eponymous EP. As one of the abiding tenets of FolkWords is listening to new artists, how could I refuse? KARA describe their music as: “… spirited acoustic folk with a Russian twist” and now that I’ve spent some time with their EP, I have to say that I agree with them. They play a unique brand of folk that blends Russian, English, Irish, French and self-penned material and if you think that sounds a ‘spirited’ mix then you’re not wrong.
The songs on this EP range from a bi-lingual opener ‘Black Eyes/ Bumble Bee’ with a Russian and English segue that moves without hesitation between the two languages and never a seam in sight. And then there’s the erotically charged ‘In Lille’ – erotic folk, oh yes that’s exactly what it is, and to be frank it is a difficult song to come to terms with from any perspective – tough love and a ghost of fear, quite disconcerting. Then comes ‘Union Street’ a beautifully sung and superbly melodic composition that has a slight hint of French feel to its tender story before sliding into a vibrant dance tune – I imagine the live version fairly rockets along. ‘Sadko Lullaby’ offers more Russian/ English lyric and it’s just captivating, while ‘Begone!’ is a disquieting witch-tale.
The word KARA is Turkish for 'black' and Russian for 'punishment' and neither of them sum up this music – possibly ‘stylish’ and ‘imaginative’ would be better words to describe KARA, who are Daria Kulesh (lead vocals, bodhran) Gary Holbrook (accordion) Kate Rouse (hammered dulcimer, vocals) and Ben Simon (guitar).
Daria Kulesh has experienced a few ups and downs since leaving Russia and she has successfully turned her experiences into a short selection of fine songs. As with all good EPs this one leaves you wanting more – hopefully the album is not far away.
Reviewer: Tim Carroll