Kulesh, Daria - Long Lost Home,
I have been fortunate in recent months to interview Daria Kulesh, and have also watched her “at home” concerts, so it seems somewhat strange to be coming to this her second album now, as I already know the songs so well. Released in 2017, it all started with just one song, “The Moon and the Pilot”, with the rest of the album following from there. When she was young Daria was greatly inspired by her grandmother telling her stories of her Ingush heritage, none more so than the story of her grandmother’s parents and the deportation of the Ingush by Joseph Stalin on 23rd February 1944. That song was performed on the BBC World Service, which led to her grandmother's nephew reaching out, and also to Daria being officially invited to visit Ingushetia by Rustam Tarkoev. He became her guide, host, and advisor, and also introduced her to Timur Dzeytov, then People's Artist of Ingushetia and now its Minister of Culture. This all led to her feeling totally grounded and rooted in history, and much of the resuting album is connected to Ingushetia and the stories she was told by her grandmother when she was young. The booklet contains not only all the lyrics, but the details behind the inspiration for each song, and how they came into being. Not all the songs are based on her heritage, as “Untangle My Bones” is based on an Innuit legend I had previously come across where a fisherman cast his net and pulled in a tangle of bones. When he put them in the correct order the bones turn into a beautiful woman who becomes his wife.
Since I first started listening to Daria I have been telling many friends about her incredible voice, her stories, and the musical accompaniment which is perfect in every way, and without fault every person has also fallen in love with her music and then thanked me for introducing them. Musically, Daria provides vocals and harmonium [Shruti Box], and she has also brought in a diverse set of talents to help her achieve her vision including Terry Crouch (classical guitar), John Maw (guitar [cigarbox] ), Timur Dzeytov (guitar, percussion, vocals, guitar [Dakhchan Pandar]), Jonny Dyer (guitar, piano, bouzouki, accordion, bass), Jason Emberton (keyboards, Mellotron, bass, percussion, drums, synth) and Vicki Swan (nyckelharpa, smallpipes [Scottish], flute). There may seem to be a lot of instrumentation, but it is always in the background, there to provide the perfect accompaniment and emotional structure for Daria’s wonderfully clear and beautiful vocals.
This is simply one of the most incredible, inspiring, and beautiful folk albums I have ever come across. Daria has a lot of stories to tell, and I have learned more about the Ingush people from this album and talking with Daria than I have ever come across. Thanks to Daria I have gained a small amount of appreciation for her homeland and what the Ingush have been through, this is folk music which is personal, about the land where she has roots, yet needs to be heard far and wide so others can appreciate the people and their history. For anyone interested in beautiful music from a wonderful folk singer and storyteller needs this in their collection, and they will be much richer for having heard it. I know I am.