I have to admit that when I first encountered the debut album from Talinka I wasn't having the least stress free week I've ever experienced. More often than not that's exactly the wrong circumstance to listen to fresh music, or indeed a fresh act, however I found the exact opposite to be true of this self titled album. Combining folk, jazz and much more, the voice of band leader Tali Atzmon proves to be a salve for all ills, often arriving without lyrics but never without a story to tell. With her husband Gilad (Tali often accompanying him on his releases) on bass, accordion, soprano sax and clarinet by her side, the rest of Talinka comprises Yaron Stavi (another of Gilad's collaborators) on double bass and Jenny Bliss Bennett, who provides viola da gamba (a fretted six string instrument that's like a cross between a viola and a cello) and as such offers numerous unexpected turns.
Circumstance is often the driver of reaction but as I've got to know the music of Talinka so the effect has grown, not diminished, the crafted pieces making their strongest impressions through their patience, understanding and beauty. The vocal led but wordless track from which both album and act take their name being a prime example, lilting voice gently persuading the soprano sax to follow its lead as piano gently keeps everything in check, constantly reshaping the framework to offer different views. "Four 2 Tango" is another wordless piece but this time accordion and strings suggest a much more tense, fraught affair. However, with "Losing Vision" written in response to the Syrian refugee crises, when Tali chooses to focus on a topic she does so with great compassion and belief.
The majority of the album is made of bespoke pieces but when the attention does turn to reinterpreting some classic sounds, "Don't Explain" and "You Don't Know What Love Is" are presented with enough controlled, individual flair to make their inclusion wise indeed. Although it's through pieces like "Baroque Bottom", where a cold, almost remote feel is pin-pricked with dashes of light, that Talinka really prove how diversely effective they can be.
Talinka engage on so many levels, nourishment for the heart, soul and mind provided in many different ways throughout. The ever altering approach never wavers and never loses its grip as you mull over insightful, heartfelt lyrics, mood altering musical set plays and cleverly constructed intricacies. It may have initially caught me unaware, but this album has made me more appreciative of the power it possesses with each and every listen.
2. Losing Vision
3. Don't Explain
5. Four 2 Tango
7. You Don't Know What Love Is
8. When You're Gone
9. Every Now and Then
Added: January 28th 2018
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Talinka online
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