Time in a Bubble
Listening Post 336. Art often consists of freezing moments and reassembling them in words, music, digital images or on canvas, and frozen reality is something we’ve all experienced over the past two years. The Estonian band Curly Strings took full advantage of the global timeout and the result of the band’s reflections is an album diptych: The companion covers of Festivity Within (Pidu meis eneses) and Tranquility Within (Rahu meis eneses) sandwich life’s transitional bubble between youth in an instant of pain on one hand and wrinkled maturity with an air of restored innocence on the other. Details of joy and sadness, loss and understanding, nostalgia and resilience, and the passing of generations, emerge in the 21 songs between the covers. The ensemble—Eeva Talsi, Taavet Niller, Jaan Jaago and Villu Talsi—burst on the Estonian music scene in 2013, using bluegrass and American string band sounds to illuminate their Baltic space; they’ve won a slew of national honors, plus the 2016 European World of Bluegrass Award. The two new albums show them inching onto a broader acoustic folk soundscape with jazz and Slavic facets. Festivity Within and Tranquility Within form a grab-bag of experience and memory, their luxuriant tones and Eeva’s sparkling voice filled with exuberance, poignance, grace and a sense of humanity’s shared isolation. They run from playful-metaphysical Ei vaja maailm (What the World Doesn’t Need, video 1) to the imaginary family gathering of Kannan kaasas kalleid (I Carry You in My Heart, video 2); to the transmission of wisdom in Taevas seab riidu (A Storm Brewing in the Sky, video 3). Personal and national trauma merge in Mind nad kätte ei saa (They Won’t Catch Me, video 4), evoking a dark chapter of Estonia’s history. And Vana talumaja (Old Farmhouse, video 5) meditates on the concept of home. The years may teach what the days don’t reveal, but Curly Strings mines abundant art and insight from one very long moment.
Pidu meis eneses / Festivity Within
Rahu meis eneses / Tranquility Within
Eeva Talsi: Fiddle, lead vocals
Taavet Niller: Double bass, lead vocals, backing vocals
Jaan Jaago: Acoustic guitars, electric guitar, backing vocals
Villu Talsi: Mandolin, acoustic guitar, banjo, percussion, backing vocals
Nublu: Lead vocals
Tõnu Tubli: Percussion
Marko Mägi: Soprano saxophone
Duo Ruut: Zither, vocals
Estonian Voices: Vocals
Related post. Curly Strings: Hoolima, Listening Post 154, June 11, 2028. https://worldlisteningpost.com/2018/06/11/curly-strings-hoolima/
Ei vaja maailm / What the World Doesn’t Need
Lyrics: Eeva Talsi, Aapo Ilves; Music: Eeva Talsi
(From the Estonian lyrics)
Did you see how the wind carried me far away from whence there can be no return?
Did you hear how the tree fell in the woods, for not a soul was there?
Did you even care to notice that my eyes still carry the same shade?
How could we have known that there can be happiness in numbers?
The world does not need yet another sad song
That’s why sans lyrics now this tune will carry on
Did you already hear the news that everything remains unchanged?
Do we become better if we choose to save others from pain?
Did you hear my voice when I thought of you in my moment of sorrow?
If I don’t see you in my dreams, do I still exist at all?
Kannan kaasas kalleid / I Carry You in My Heart
Lyrics: Tõnis Parksepp/Music: Eeva Talsi
There’s a party within me tonight, the guests in attendance are the people I carry in my heart
The whole room is full of loved ones, the festivities last until the morning
Uncle Meinhard is striking up a melody, but he hasn’t taken up carrying a tune
Aunt Maali keeps wanting to dance all the time — that’s the way my family is
Every day I carry you all in my heart, it is impossible to forget you
I love you in my body and my soul, I carry you with me and welcome you
At the table the past has no relevance, not a single child should stay hidden in fear
Fate does not carry weight, next to the import of being human, which is a miracle
Granny proposes a toast through my voice, I can hear my grandpa reading a poem
I think of all the things I learned from you — thank you for being with me!
Taevas seab riidu / A Storm Brewing in the Sky
Lyrics: Tõnis Parksepp/Music: Eeva Talsi
All the lines in my palm are awry/My reflection’s a stranger to me
Your joy still reminds me of times/I used to giggle innocently like you
Come inside, a storm is brewing in the sky/That’s enough of playtime today
I’m reminded of my own mother/And the tears that her curfew brought
Let it pour for the sake of the sun/One day you’ll understand me!
Let it pour for the restless soul/There’ll come a day when you will see!
Don’t weep, the sky is quarreling now/Your teddy’d get cold in the rain
It’s not up to me to change/What life decides to pour on us all
There’s a fire crackling inside/Eyes reflecting as dark as the night
How grandmother used to hold me/Her kisses always melted my gloom
All skies will clear, clouds disappear/I promise always to be there
All skies will clear, no matter the storm/I promise always to be there
Mind nad kätte ei saa / They Won’t Catch Me
Lyrics: Kristiina Ehin, Ly Seppel-Ehin/Music: Eeva Talsi
I’ve set out this way for the mill before/With rye and oats on the wagon
Last night’s squeezebox tunes still fresh in my mind/And the laughs of the neighbor girls
But on my way back a local came near/And he gave me this warning clear:
Your mother and brother are Siberia-bound/And riflemen await you at home
Go home my horsey dear/You know your way ‘cross the frozen land
They won’t catch me!/Go home my horsey dear
Now draw these groats back one last time/I know not if we’ll meet again
Our house has turned into a trap overnight/Stay away my brothers and sisters!
Is the door to our hearth now closed to us for good/Or will one day our truths count again?
Will guitar and melodeon ever sing forth anew/Will we chant as we lend a helping hand
Or do we face an era that’s cruel and bleak/Where the path to our home is overgrown?
These are the fields of my childhood farms/Meadows and woods past the bogs
They won’t catch me!
Vana talumaja / Old Farmhouse
Lyrics & music: Eeva Talsi
Hello little sparrow
Do you want me to tell you/Of a faraway place I call home?
There are four seasons there
And an old farmouse with a garden/Where I could just forget myself
Now it’s gone, gone, gone
That sweet place/That was dear to my heart
And I still don’t know/How to let it go
One home, two homes/Three homes, ten homes
What I call my home now/I truly don’t know
‘Cause this is my home/My home
Only this is my home
There are strangers/Living in the old farmhouse now
They don’t know me/But little birdy let me tell you
These walls still have memories of me
On these stone stairs/My grandmother was born
On the day the war began/And men left their homes
Now it’s gone, gone, gone/That sweet place
Where generations worked hard/And passed it all on down the line
We keep building the new/And the brand new
But in the end/We will have to say
Where is my home now?
I don’t know where my home is now/I only know the old farmouse
That’s dear to my heart/And I still don’t know how to let it go