Eva Quartet’s Latest LP Is Interesting But Imperfect

Courtesy: Riverboat Records

Bulgarian musical collective Eva Quartet is scheduled to release its new album this week.  The quartet – Gergana Dimitrova, Sofia Kovacheva, Evelina Hristova, and Daniela Stoitchkova – is scheduled to release its new album, Minka Friday through Riverboat Records.  The group’s new 14-song record is an interesting but imperfect presentation.  To its positive is its musical content, which will be discussed shortly.  The one shortcoming from which the album suffers is its lack of English translated lyrics.  This will be discussed a little later.  While the lack of English translated lyrics detracts from the album’s presentation, its liner notes make up for that shortcoming at least somewhat.  This aspect will be discussed later, too.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of this album.  All things considered, they make Minka a World Music offering that is worth hearing at least once.

Eva Quartet’s new forthcoming album Minka is an intriguing addition to this year’s field of new World Music offerings.  That is due in part to its featured musical arrangements.  The arrangements in question are fully a capella performances.  At times cacophonous, such as in ‘Velko Si Rada Zaljuni’ and at others more controlled, such as in ‘Balno Li Ti E Sinjo Ljo,’ the arrangements put the full talents and control of the group’s vocals on display here.  The timbre, dynamics, and other aspects of each woman’s vocal delivery is so rich and full in each performance.  Forget any comparison to maybe a Celtic Woman or any other similar act.  The often times Gregorian chant style vocal deliveries and at other times more harmonious singing create so much engagement and entertainment.  The overall presentation is such that even being sung entirely in the group’s native tongue it is still reason enough for audiences to hear at least once.

Speaking of the group singing entirely in its native language, this brings about the album’s one notable negative.  While the approach and various sounds presented in the group’s arrangements make for reason enough for audiences to hear the album, the lack of any English translated lyrics detracts notably from the album’s presentation.  It detracts from the record’s appeal because it means audiences will not know specifically, the story/message in each song.  Simply put, what happens here is a disconnect between the group and English-speaking audiences because of that lacking.  Yes, the album’s booklet does offer background on the songs (the album’s other positive, which will be discussed shortly), but the lack of the actual content means that the album’s reach will be limited among domestic audiences because those audiences want to know what the group is singing.  Keeping this in mind, this lack of actual English-translated lyrics does detract from the album’s presentation, but does not completely doom the record.  It just would have been very nice for English-speaking audiences to be able to make that full connection.  The noted addition of background on each of the songs in the album’s booklet makes up for the lack of lyrical content at least to a point.

The background provided on the songs in the album’s booklet is important because it at least gives audiences a starting point as they take in each song.  Case in point is the information presented about the album’s opener, ‘Minka E Rano Stanala.’  According to the information provided in the booklet, the song centers, lyrically, on “human relationships and a mother’s love.”  Now being that this and other background can be printed in the booklet, it leaves one wondering (again) why English translated lyrics were not featured in the booklet, too.  Getting back on topic, that background makes the solemn approach to the song more understandable.  In similar fashion, the background information provided about ‘Leme Dreme’ helps audiences understand the lighter approach and sound in this song.  According to the provided information, the song focuses on a woman who is trying to sleep and the man who comes to playfully wake her up.  The light tones from the fiddle and vocals go a long way to help tell the story along with the background information.  That is even without lyrics to reference.  Again, sure it would have been nice to have had some English translation for the words, but even without them, the song is still able to be understood and appreciated thanks to that background information.  It is just one more way in which the album’s liner notes prove so important to its presentation.  When it and the rest of the background information provided in the album’s booklet is considered along with the album’s content, that whole leaves the album that much more worth hearing, if only slightly.  Keeping in mind the impact and importance of the record’s musical and background content, the two items together make the new record worth hearing at least once.  That is the case even taking into account the lack of English translated lyrics in the album’s booklet.

Eva Quartet’s forthcoming album Minka is an intriguing new offering from the group.  It is a presentation that proves at least somewhat appealing.  That is due in part to its featured musical arrangements.  The arrangements are all entirely a capella performances, with the occasional instrumental accompaniment.  The harmonies, the occasional dissonance, and the point/counterpoint in the arrangements and their performances generates its own share of interest.  While the arrangements give audiences some reason to hear the album, the lack of English translations detracts from the engagement and entertainment guaranteed by the album’s musical content.  That is because its lack means at least domestic audiences will not have that contact to follow, leading to less connection to the album among said audiences.  Luckily, the background information about the songs that the group provides in the album’s companion booklet makes up for that shortcoming at least somewhat.  When that background information is considered along with the album’s musical content, the two elements collectively make the record at least somewhat worth hearing.  Minka is scheduled for release Friday through Riverboat Records.  More information on the album is available along with all of the quartet’s latest news at https://www.facebook.com/eva.quartet.3.  

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