Reviews November - December 2008



Deniz yildizi (2008) - ♪♪♪♪
Aksu, Sezen (Turkey)

Everytime Sezen Aksu releases a nw album, I wonder what musical direction she takes this time. Being the ultimate pop diva in Turkey for many decades now, she achieved complete musical independence. Fortunately, commercial success did not stop her from experimenting and re-inventing herself over and over again, vener taking the easy way. Sometimes, this results in superbe creative albums, sometimes the output is somewhat disappointing. But in the end, this woman is almost solely responsible for the musical emancipation of Turkey, so we owe her much credit for that alione! Her latest album, 'Deniz yildizi', is her best record since 'Deliveren' in 2000. The record opens with the title track, a beautiful and moving hymn. It is followed by one of the best songs on the record, 'Yol arkadasim'. The combination of Turkish traditional folk with western pop arrangements (listen to the guitars!) is simply exquisite! The record contains for the most part of ballads, again with beautiful lyrics (at least, so I am told), Sezen's trade mark. Of course, we already know Sezen Aksu can sing ballads very well, but this time, the songs and arrangements sound a lot more fresh and creative than on her last few records (listen to 'Memet' or Sor beni'). The best songs however in my opinion are the mid-/up-tempo ones like 'Roman', 'Menajer' and 'Yol arkadasim'. With this record, Seze establishes her position at the top of the Europopmusic scene. For all people with interest in great pop, folk and world music who have not heard from Sezen Aksu: go to the record stores of on the internet and order this record. You do not need to understand the Turkish language to apprecieate this high quality artist.

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Wat als (2008) - ♪♪♪
Bedert, Hannelore (Belgium)

Hannelore Bedert is a new talent from Belgium. And an upcoming one if we should believe the Belgian press. Hannelore sings in Flemish dialect en positions herself somewhere between pop, singer/songwriter and Dutch 'kleinkunst'. Hannelore was first noticed in 2005 when she won the finals of the Dutch tv show ‘NCRV Volgspot Open Podium’ followed by the Nederpop price in 2007. Comments at the time where “fantastic voice, an honesty rarely shown on stage. A woman with balls, a big talent and the songs to get away wit hit”. In 2008 she broke the Belgian market when she performed at the NEKKA-night of tv presentator Bart Peeters next to Ramses Shaffy and Raymond van het Groenewoud. The debut album ‘Wat als’ (‘What if’) entered the Belgian charts at no 27. Hannelore calls her songs ‘Bleitliedjes’ (bleiten is flemish for crying) and her lyrics are certainly something between a smile and a tear. Songs like 'Dissolvant’, ‘Imaginaire’, 'Met uw ogen toe' and ‘Helemaal’ tell of lost or dead end loves while songs like ‘Smaak’ and ‘Meneer’ deal in a comical way with the same grief. Hannelore Bedert fits into the same musical category as Dutch female singers like Frederique Spigt and Fay Lovsky, women who work on the edge of Europop and cabaret. Again it would be a nice experiment what non-Dutch speaking listeners make of it. A good friend of ours who is totally into Lais and stuff like that will love this album.

Listen to 'Met uw ogen toe' (snippet courtesy of

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Infréquentable (2008) - ♪♪♪♪
Bénabar (France)

In the past ten years Bénabar grew out to become on of France's most succesfull artists. He encountered both commercial and artistic success. Naturally, expectations are high when a new album is released. And in short: with 'Infréquentable' Bénabar does not let us down. On the contrary, this album is a new artistic peak in his career! On the one hand, the album sounds like a natural follow up to his latest 'Reprise des négociations'. On the other hand, the songs and arrangements sound somewhat different, like they have evolved. This might be the result of Bénabar composing them for the first time on the guitar, instead of on the piano. It would have been easy for Bénabar to just continue his formula and prolongue his success. Fortunately, he is a true artist and chose to discover undiscovered artistic areas. Having done so, 'Infréquentable' is still a typical Bénabar album, but more daring and surprising than his earlier records. 'Infréquentable' contains great pop songs, with a touch of the 60s, due to its luster classy brass. Sometimes joyful, sometimes melancholic, but always very elegant. With this albu, Bénabar maintains his position at the top of the current league of French singer-songwriters.

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Enfants d'hiver (2008) - ♪♪♪♪
Birkin, Jane (France)

We all remember Jane as Serge Gainsbourgs muse. After his death, Jane prolongued her career by singing the Gainsbourg repertoire in all sorts of different arrangements. In 1998 she released her first album without any Gainsbourg song on it - and it became both a commercial as artistic success. Now Jane is back with a new album. For the fisrt time she has written all texts herself. The songs are written by different composers, among others her loyal friends and co-musicians, Alain & Pierre Souchon. The album is a small, timeless masterpiece in singer-songwriter tradition. The texts are very reflective (without the humour and twists of the Gainsbourg material), and it all fits very well. Jane Birkin has become a mature woman, leaving behind the lolita she once used to be. With this album, she starts a new phase in her career, exploring new musical directions, showing a new side of herself. In stead of interpretating other people's songs, this time she sings her own lyrics, showing us her own emotions. Sometimes sad, sometimes melancholic and sometimes even angry (in the protest song for Birmese freedom fighter Aung San Suu Kyi). Jane, please continue releasing albums like this for many years...

Listen to 'Période bleue' (snippet courtesy of


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  Oktober (2008) - ♪♪♪♪
Bløf (Netherlands)

Which direction Bløf would take after their cosmopolitan over-the-top project 'Umoja' was anybody's guess but that they would take a turn to an almost acoustic inner journey was a suprise for most. In fact this is the most introspective album they released since 'Blauwe ruis' (about the death of their drummer). But unlike that album, that has some standard rock songs, 'Oktober' is an album that catches the autumn feel the title suspects. The addition of strings helps to strengthen the somewhat dark mood that hangs around the album but the biggest surprise comes from guest vocalist Sarah Bettens (singer of Belgian band K's choice) that fits remarkably well with the strong voice of singer Paskal. Is it depression all the way then? In fact it is not. Although the themes are about lost relationships, getting older and fallen angels the album is more romantic then depressive. It is not a cold album but feels like a small fire in a desolate countryside. OK, they still have the pretentieus lyrics but the arrangements on 'Oktober' are very strong. In fact this is the first album they made that should appeal to a broader European audience, even if you don't get what the songs are about. So, for that reason, a four star album (Paul Royal is gonna kill me for me this).

Listen to 'Donkerrood' (snippet courtesy of

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Tu me manques (2008) - ♪♪♪♪
Croisille, Nicole (France)

The 'grande dame' of French chanson released a new album, 'Tu me manques'. It was recorded in Montréal, Canada and produced by Daniel Mercure. The album consists entirely of Québeçoise songs, for the most part composed by Mercure as well. The second track on the album was written by the famous Luc Plamandon (you might remember him from 'Starmania' and as many songs he wrote for/with o.a. Michel Berger, Sylvie Vartan and Riccardo Cocciante).

'Tu me manques' is Croisille at her best. Despite her age (70+), she is still capable of producing extraordinary singing qualities. The songs are jazzy, but not so much as her last record, a tribute to Claude Nougaro. She does a great job interpretating the texts, which seem especially written for a mature lady like La Croisille. She sings about depatures, the passing of time and, of course, about love.

The album is great material for a romantic Saturday evening with good company and a nice bottle of wine. At the moment of writing this review, the record has only been released in Canada. That is a pity, because Europop lovers in Europe will definitely appreciate La Croisille's return to the music scene. Hopefully it will be released in Europe in the near future. Meanwhile, you can order your copy via internet (, etc.)

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Nek živi ljubav (2008) - ♪♪
Danijela (Croatia)

If you thought 'schlager music' was the exclusive property of Germany, listen to Danijelas latest album. It is a tribute to the hits of Đorđa Novkovića, some of them composed with/by the famous Arsen Dedić. The album is devided into two parts; the first part contains four potpouri mixes. The second contains four ('bonus') tracks. The four bonus tracks proof that Danijela actually cán sing. Naturally, you have to be a fan of the genre, but the songs are not bad as is Danijela's interpretation. The potpouri mixes however are terrible! These songs, probably very famous in Coratian, have been turned into the cheapest muzak, meant to accompany the après ski or 25th wedding anniversarry party in the suburbs of Zagreb. When you struggled yourself to mix no. 4 and you think that this cannot get any worse - you are wrong; at the end of the mix some little girl starts to sing, making going to the dentist a better experience than this... It all reminds me somwhat of German schlager icon Michelle. Anyway, Danijela has a very charming personality, a good voice but hopefully she will select a new producer and some orginal material for her next album...

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800 (2008) - ♪♪♪
Dede, Mercan (Turkey)

Mercan Dede believes that when you put digital, electronic sounds together with hand-made, human ones, you can create universal language. And he puts this idea into action on his albums with '800' already being his eight album under his stage name. His sound incorporates traditional instruments and ney from Turkey and other parts of the world, with horns, drum'n'bass dance beats, ambient electronic music and a Sufi spirituality. This last point is extra present on the album since it is dedicated to his Sufi master Rumi, as a celebration of his masters 800th birthday. The album displays a unique soundclash of Turkish orchestral rhythms, western electronic music and balkan like brass section. But the album is not a dance album but falls more into the intellegent electronic scene where Transglobal Underground also moves around. Not suprisingly members of that collective are present in '800'. As is Turkish poetic rapper Nar and singer Yildiz Tilbe. Her track 'Tutsak' (Captive) is one of the stronger tracks on the album and in fact one of the most alluring and suprising electronic music compositions i heard in years. Mercan Dede has his own little niche in Europop-music. A very nice one but you have to appreciate this kind of music (I know PAUL ROYAL gets a tat nervous after an hour of Turkish-Sufi soundscapes)

Listen to '800' (snippet courtesy of

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Point de suture (2008) - ♪♪♪
Farmer, Mylène (France)

A new record by the famous red head from France. Over all, Farmer's 7th album is good but more of the same. The album contains many up tempo songs and just two ballades. Furthermore, composer and producer Laurent Boutonnat added more electronic touches compared to her former albums, but - from start to finish - I can not help but think: "I already heard this song before?!" The texts are mysterious, dreamlike with many funny twists. Mylène's voice is still extraordinary (she more or less invented a sub genre within European pop music!) and the duet with Moby is very catchy, but I cannot help but feel a bit disappointed by her latest release. She is a great live performer and her spectacular shows are famous all over France. As always, Mylène will promote the album with a series of concerts in France. If you are able to attend one of her concerts, you will be in for a great adventure! (You can order tickets at

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Koncert ljubavi u čast Karla Metikoša (2007) - ♪♪♪
Lisac, Josipa

The package on this dvd indicates that it was published in 2007, but on my last holiday in Croatia (August, 2008) I got the impression taht it had just been released. Anyway, it contains a registration of a recital by Josipa Lisac, one of Croatia's most famous singers (and probably its only real pop diva). The concert is a tibute (one of many) by Lisac in honour of Karlo Metikoš, her partner both professionally and personally who died in 1991. The songs, spanning a period of more than 35 years, sound great in their updated arrangements. Josipa's voice has become deeper and darker. It suits the songs most of the time, but there are also moments when you think nervously: "is she or isn't she going to reach that note?" She sang them somewhat stronger on other life albums. Furthermore, for the most part the selected songs are down-tempo. Personally, I would have welcomed a bit more mid- and up-tempo songs. Apart from the songs and the singing there is the visual aspect; and that really is something else! The recital has been split up into four parts: one for every season. And with every season, Josipa changes into another extravagant wardrobe. The whole setting is in service of Lisac' performance; the band, the lights, the camera work. The visual spectacle is definitely what makes this live collection of Lisac-songs worth while.

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The Ravished Bride (2008) - ♪♪♪
Kočani Orkéstar (Macedonia)

The Kočani Orkéstar is one of the oldest gypsy ensembles coming from Eastern Europe. Although musically they stand close to the music scene of Romania (comparable to acts like Fanfare Ciocărlia and Taraf de Haidouks) they reside in Macedonia, just across the border. But like the Romanian bands they feed from the historical roots of Austrian and Turkish military bands, mixed with the Roma music tradition. The Orkestar has been around since 1913 but this album is only their third international album release. This is due to the fact that current band leader Ismail Saliev took the band in a whole new direction in 1999, claiming the name. This to frustration of Naat Veliov who started his King Naat Veliov and the Original Kocani Orkestar. But currently we’re discussing the Saliev ensemble which delivers their third release on Crammed Disc. After ‘Alone at my wedding’ and ‘L’orient est rouge’ this third album again gives you again a feel that you entered a Macedonian wedding party. The album vibrates again uptempo Balkan beats that can make any party a fiesta. Not featured on the album but traceable on the net are the remixes by the likes of Mercan Dede and Buscemi. New singer Ajnur Azizov makes his claim and guest appearances from Uri Kinrot (from the NY based band Balkan Beat Box) make this album one of the better gypsy Balkan releases of this year.

Listen to 'Romani Caj' (snippet courtesy of


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Metamorfozy (2008) - ♪♪♪
Kora & 5th element (Poland)

Kora’s solo projects are always a bit… well, different then the music she produces with Maanam. It was like that with her first experimental release in 1988 (with 'Pudelsi') and it is the same this time around with technoduo 5th element. From start to finish ‘Metamorfozy’ is an electronic rollercoaster ride through the mad and bad world of Olga 'Kora' Jackowska. It’s amazing how Kora, after being around for so many years, still seems to amaze her public. With the guitar licks from ex-husband Marek Jackowski you could describe this project as Maanam goes Nine Inch Nails with some Enigma added for good flavour. Kora plays the dominant mistress and demands to know who’s ‘lipstick is on the glass’, forces you into the ‘Szare miraze’ ('Grey mirage'), or tells about her ‘Dwa oszukane serca’ ('Two clipped heart'); one of the best tracks on the album I might add. She is the ‘Zapatrzenie’ ('Reverie') who on the last track ‘Mówię, do ciebie cos’ ('Speaks to tell you something'). The album lacks the finesses of her former solo project (‘Ola, Ola’) and is maybe rather crude with the BPM. But in your car with the speakers on full volume this album is great fun. Fans who strictly like the punk-rock of Maanam better stay away from this project but anyone who likes modern electronic music won’t be disappointed.

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Je garde quelques images... 2cd best of (2008) - ♪♪♪
Lio (Belgium)

Usually, we do not review 'best of' albums, but in this case we make an exception. After all, among the many, many compilation albums of Lio, this double cd pack with 32 songs in total, finally covers Lio's entire career. Most people will remember Lio only from her 2 hits 'Amoureux solitaires' and 'Le banabana split', but this compilation proofs that Lio deserves more credit. Of course, the compilation contains many catchy bubblegum songs. On the other hand, Lio's later albums - especially 'Wandatta' and 'Dites au prince charmant' - are more experimental and introspective. She has only mediocre singing skills, but being so, Lio does know how to move us from time to time. This 2-cd pack is a great introdction for people who never bought a Lio-album before and a must have for fans, thanks to the 5 unreleased tracks.

Listen to 'Les brunes comptent pas pour des prunes' (snippet courtesy of

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Manitoba ne répond plus (2008) - ♪♪♪♪
Manset, Gérard (France)

Gérard Manset is a unique artist. His albums are always of great quality, and 'Manitoba ne répond plus' is definitely no acception to that rule. His former record, 'Obok', had some beautiful songs on it, but was in my opinion not Manset at his best. With 'Manitoba...' he takes revanche. It is an exceptionally great record. The songs are somewhat less orchestrated, so his Neil Young like voice stands out even more. You probably like his singing or hate it; there is no in-between. I have become addicited to his voice. The songmaterial is, again, very good. The opening track, 'Comme un Lego' is one of the three tracks that were recorded by Alain Bashung on his latest album, 'Bleu pétrol'. I already loved Bashung's interpretation, but Manset's own recording is simply outstanding. If you want an introduction to some serious French popmusic (definitely no traditional chansons!), Manset's lates album is highly recommended!

Listen to 'Comme un Lego' (snippet courtesy of


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Be West (2008) - ♪♪♪♪
Mas, Jeanne (France)

Jeanne goes country? Yes and no. In the eighties she encountered enormous success in France with hits like 'En rouge et noir' and 'Johnny, Johnny'. In the nineties, success declined as did her album sales. She tried to re-invent herself with every new record, but without much success. In the new millennium she moved to the USA where she just did the things she wanted, instead of chasing commercial success. She released a dance album together with DJ Estaban a few years ago and now she is back with 'Be West'. Although she appears to have become a southern cowgirl, the album is still very much Jeanne Mas as we remember her. But this time, she did re-invent herself in a very successfull way. It is a great collection of songs, some ballads (the beautiful 'Sebastien'), some mid-tempo ('Be West') and some guitar based rock songs ('Plus jamais'). The album is beautifully produced, using mainly real instruments and avoiding much synths. Only opening track and title song 'Be West' actually is something of a country song. But moving to America has been great for Jeanne's creativity! The release of the record was followed by a series of concerts in the 'Triannon' in Paris. Rumour has it that Jeanne will be performing in the famous Olympia theatre in the spring of 2009.

Listen to 'Sebastien' (snippet courtesy of

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Willkommen im Club (2008) - ♪♪♪♪
MIA. (Germany)

MIA. present their fourth album. As the single 'Mein Freund' already hinted the album is more mature sounding then the previous albums. In fact you could say that MIA. becomes more pop and less punk. Is that a bad thing? Not if you're able to make songs like they do. Opening track 'Kapitan' is not one of the better songs on the album but songs like 'Mausen' and 'Die Aussicht' show a riper band without losing the catchyness they have. 'Deinetwegen' is the odd one out on the album. Although a very good song it sounds like it was meant for 'Zirkus' but ended up an album later. The band even slips in a complete instrumental track ('Verfolger') which wouldn't withstand on the upcoming James Bond soundtrack. With 'Willkommen im Club' the band steps away from the electronic sound they had and becomes more and more a full blown pop/rock band. And one of the better Germany has at the moment. Therefore four thumbs up.

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Adieu les complexes (2008) - ♪♪♪
Palya, Beáta (Hungaria)

Born November 11, 1976 in Hungary, Beáta Palya’s is one of the upcoming stars of Hungary that keeps the old traditions high. But around the background of the Hungarian folk of her youth, she has crafted jazz, gypsy, Indian and Persian influences into her modern sounding style. Although already active for some years as a singer in folk groups like Sebő and the Belgian musical project Caravane (with the Balkan group Daraduna) her debut was released in 2003 under the title 'Ágrol-ágra' ('Tradition in motion').
The album gave her the opportunity to be the Hungarian participation to the 2004 Cultural Olympiad in Athens called ‘The World and Manos Hadjidakis: 12 musicians from around the world', presented the works of the great Greek composer Manos Hadjidakis, in their own language. Beáta released her 2nd solo album, 'Álom-álom, kitalálom', in 2004 and formed her own quintet in March 2005, merging classical, folk and jazz influences. This attracted the attention of film director Tony Gatlif who casted her in his movie Transylvania. The keysong of the movie ‘Tchiki Tchiki’ became an worldmusic hit. Due to this movie she was asked to perform througout Europe and singned to the French naïve records. ‘Adieu les compexes’ is the second album on this label and again features the folky jazzy sound we became accustomed to. Although musically she comes close to her fellow hungarian singer Mitsou, Beata is much more easy to listen to. Most of this is thanks to her mezzo-soprano voice that sometimes makes her sound like Ofra Haza. On tracks like ‘Hoppa’ and ‘Lovas dal’ where klezmer influences pop up, this becames even more evident. ‘Adieu les complexes’ is a fresh sound from Hungary with its modern twist to old folkmusic styles.

Listen to 'Hoppa' (snippet courtesy of

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Stralunata (2008) - ♪♪♪♪
Rettore, Donatella (Italy)

Rettore (she prefers her surname instead of her first name) is one of the more extravagant female artists of Italy. Her commercial peak was at the end of the seventies/beginning of the eighties, when she combined new wave with disco and mediterranean melodies. She wrote 98% of the lyrics to the songs, composed for her by husband Claudio Rego. Since the mid eighties, her commercial succes declined. However, every once in a few years Rettore releases a new album. Two years after her latest regular album, the great 'Figurine', Rettore is back with 'Stralunata', a 2cd + 1dvd box, covering her biggest hitsongs and many great clips from tv erformances from 1978 until 2003. This collection is very well designed and packed and underlines the great discography of Rettore. Furthermore, it proofs that she was also a highly influential fashion icon at the time. Her outfits are quite extreme and always have a certain message or concept. The dvd contains nice visual extra's, but in the end the two cd's are the real proof of Rettore's artistic heritage with great timeless songs that open up a whole new world for people who are interested in Kim Wilde or Toyah 'the Italian way'.

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Sourde et aveugle (2008) - ♪♪♪♪
RoBERT (France)

RoBERT is one of the strangest artists from the France popscene. Her voice is like Jane Birkin meets Mylène Farmer (both angel and wich) - either you love it or you hate it. Originally persuiing a career as a dancer and model, she started singing in the mid eighties. She released several albums since then, starting with minimal synths experiments on her first album 'Sine' to dance on 'Celle qui tue' and gothic on 'Six pieds sous terre'. RoBERT also released two recitals on dvd, which show that not only her music is kind of weird, but the whole persona and performance is - well - different.... Now RoBERT is back with a new record, a very impressive follow up in the gothic style of 'Six pieds sous terre'. It contains 14 beautifully orchestrated songs that blend perfectly with her strange voice. If you can stand her singing style, RoBERT will take you into her magic fairytale kingdom. Beautiful, inspiring, but also dark and moody. At this moment, my personal favourits are 'Tout est calme' and 'Comme un dieu'. If you are not scared away yet, you can listen to songsamples from 'Sourde et aveugle' on the Fnac website.

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Jest cudnie (2008) - ♪♪♪♪
Rodowicz, Maryla (Poland)

53-year old Maryla returns to the music scene after a three year break. Was her 'Kochać' (2005) a regular pop album, with ‘Jest cudnie’ she returns to her folk acoustic roots. The album reminds of her debut ‘Żyj mój świecie’ and follow up ‘Rok’. The album is mostly singer-songwriter and contributions are made by Kayah, multi instrumentalist Andrzej Smolik and poets Jonasz Kofta (who makes an adaptation of an Ceslaw Niemen song) and Magda Umer. Also with the use of poets she returns to the seventies when she was one of the first performers in the Poezja śpiewana movement. The musical movement that started to put polish poetry to modern music. This gives poetic titles like ‘Kiedy sie, dziwic przestane’ ('When it is, wonder no longer') or ‘Nie liczy sie, nic’ ('Does not count as if nothing'). In the seventies the poetic movement was also a political statement against the communist regime. With that out of the way she now turns to more wordly subjects. The cover art hints to more environmental issues but since I don’t speak Polish I have no idea if that is the case. ‘Jest cudnie’ sees Maryla deliver a introvert and very sympathetic album and one of her better since a long time.

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Die Suche geht weiter (2008) - ♪♪♪
Rosenstoltz (Germany)

Rosenstolz eleventh album is called (translated) ‘The search goes on’. And it is obviously a search within. A search they already set in with the previous album ‘Das große Leben’. Was Rosenstolz formerly a band that shined with uptempo popsongs that would get many concert going. In 2006 (after the lengthy ‘Herz’ tour) something changed for AnNa and Peter. What it is stays for us to guess but fact is that the themes and music on the albums far more tell us about personal emotions and troubles of the heart. That doesn’t mean that Rosenstolz isn’t capable of making a good pop tune. For instance ‘Ich bin mein haus’ and ‘Blaue Flecken’ are still uptempo but the lyrics aren’t all that happy anymore (‘Blaue Flecken’ means bruises). ‘Die suche geht weiter’ is an introspective album with some tough lyrics which makes you wonder if everything is hunky dory in their lives. Musically I get the feeling that Rosenstolz is in a bit of a standstill which isn’t surprising when your occupied with personal problems. But here we’ re only guessing (I feel like a regular tabloid). ‘Die suche geht weiter’ is still a nice album and worth to spend your money on, but I look forward when the search goes on to more adventurous coasts.

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Zdravo Marijo (2008) - ♪♪♪♪
Severina (Croatia)

Popular Croatian pop singer Severina recently released her long-anticipated 9th studio album. 'Zdravo Marijo' ('Hail Mary') consists for the most part of compositions by Goran Bregović. This project follows their collaboration on 'Moja štikla', the song with which Severina represented Croatia in the Eurovision Song Contest in 2006. The first single from the album was 'Gas, gas' (one of the songs performed by Bregović during the 'entre act' of the Eurovision final in Belgrade, 2008). As soon as the song hit the stations, accusations followed that the song closely resembled Serbian turbo-folkparticularly, due to the brass elements and mischievous, prankish lyrics. Additionally, after having made several public appearances wearing clothes depicting religious imagery, many people protested that Severina, Catholic herself, abused religious elements in her work and thus offended them. Since we do not understand a word Severina is singing about, we can only judge the quality of the songs and her singing. And we have to admit, the combination Severina-Bregović works great. The record is produced quite roughly and Severina expresses loads of energy and enthousiasm. Bregović worked with many vocalists in the past few years (Kayah, Haris Alexiou, Sezen Aksu, George Dalaras), but the combination with Severina certainly proofs to be one of the better ones. The songs fit perfectly in the Europop genre: a perfect match between pop music and traditional folk influences. A great record and Severina deserves to be discovered outside her homecountry!

Listen to 'Moja štikla' (snippet courtesy of


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  Vreemd (2008) - ♪♪♪
Spigt, Fréderique (Netherlands)

Translated the new album from Dutch bohemian singer Frederique Spigt is called ‘Strange’. The titlesong is a rework of Astor Piazzolla’s ‘Libertango’ which a lot of people will know as ‘Strange, I’ve seen that face before’ from Grace Jones. Spigt brings the song (in a Dutch translation) to its original context with an album filled with influences from tango, cabaret and French chanson. Together with her musical partner Jan van der Meij she delivers a melancholy album but one with a Mediterranean feel around it. Not so strange if you keep in mind that the album was recorded in the French village Mansigné with a mobile studio. Partly through the use of 'unusual' instruments such as accordion, banjo, bass and porcelain plates(!) Frederique Spigt delivers an exciting album. This doesn’t mean she sheds her blues-background completely. Very strong opening track ‘Spreek’ (Speak) sees La Spigt dig into her inner depths and scream her lungs out. There are more intense songs like this on the album and in fact the Piazzolla cover is a bit of the odd one out if you ask me. The Arabic influenced ‘Ziba’ shows that Frederique already is searching for new shores to discover.

Listen to 'Spreek' (snippet courtesy of

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Puchowe kołysanki (2008) - ♪♪
Steczkowska, Justyna (Poland)

Justyna is a one of the best female singers from Poland. She has a beautiful singing voice, she writes most of her own songs and she has the guts to experiment on her records. Her last album, 'Puchowe kołysanki', is no exception to that rule. It contains a collection of lullabies, written by Justyna with some help from her family-members. My first thought was: "oh no, not a record with sentimental children-songs!". Fortunately, the album is not sentimental at all. Nevertheless, the songs and production are extremely serene and almost tend to new age music. The thing is: when I listen to the record, I actually fall asleep! At the end of the album, Justyna tells a fairytale, which sounds extremely funny, although I do not understand a word of it. All in all, a beautifully crafted record, but make sure you listen to it before buying it.

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Più di me (2008) - ♪♪♪
Vanoni, Ornella (Italy)

La Vanoni might be 74 years old, she is still going strong releasing new albums every few years. Her latest darling is 'Più di me', an album containing 11 duets with the crème de la crème of the Italian pop music scene: Ramazotti, Pooh, Baglioni, Lucio Dalla and even la grande Mina. Unfortunately, there are only two new songs to be discovered, the other nine are new versions of her old successes. The two new songs - 'Solo un volo' (with Ramazotti) and 'Amiche mai' (with Mina) are really great songs and are enough reason to purchase this album. The production of the album is great and most of the new songs work very well as duets. Only on the almost heavy rock version of 'Una ragione di più' with Giusy Ferreri, Ornella's classy voice got completely lost. The songs are produced very beautifully, but to be honost: after many compilations and live albums, I think we heard them enough. Hopefully, Ornella's next album will be containing new songs.

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