Tuulikki Bartosik's second solo album stands in complete contrast to the Estonian accordionist's first. The experimentalism that characterized that debut is replaced with track after track of delicious melody, and it really works. It makes the disc feel personal, and it certainly is. It’s about her people, her country, and above all, the area where she lives – Rõuge, in the south of the country.
But in many ways, this seems like Bartosik’s own travelogue: meeting a relative here, observing nature there, a word about a famous musician who lived over there, or telling the epic tale of people who fled Stalin and World War II, first to Sweden and then in a small boat that took them to Portugal and the US. They’re celebrated in the two sections of “Setting Sail For Freedom” ("Over the Sea" and "Coming Home") that capture some of the anguish and joy. It’s all very rooted, not just in the birdsong that crops up in “Crying Meadows” (and elsewhere), but also in “Forgotten Village Polka” in honour of Estonian accordion played Karla Kikas.
The music throughout – everything is played and written by Bartosik – might give a nod to minimalism, but its heart is in the soil of Rõuge, nowhere more than on the final track, “Dear Friends/Orukalda Waltz,” where she sings words by regional poet Artur Adson and also plays the kannel, an instrument with more than a few ties to the kantele and zither. There’s a magical stillness to the piece, enough to stop the breath for a few moments. Bartosik’s Storied Sounds was excellent. This is even better; mellifluous and gracefully flowing. She’s found her voice and it’s rather wonderful. – Chris Nickson
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