Blizzard Boheme
(Whaling City Sound, 2007)

Balval modernizes Gypsy (more properly called Roma) and Eastern European music. There are many bands that modernize old world forms of music, but few do it as well as Balval.

The outstanding feature of these 14 tracks is the energy. The traditional songs are in a variety of languages. None are in English, but each is translated in a booklet in the CD sleeve. The lyrics are also printed in their original languages.

The lyrics are generally simple, but Awana Burgess sings all of them with conviction. She sings them in a youthful voice as if they were new, not as historical works to be preserved, but as if they were being sung at a party or a special occasion.

Rosalie Hartog, who also contributes vocals, plays Roma violin with a lot of swing feel and a bit of jazz. Daniel Mizrahi occasionally switches from acoustic to electric guitar and plays a bit of rock. Benjamin Body plays a fluid double bass influenced by many genres. Eight of the tracks feature Bachar Khalife on percussion.

Blizzard Boheme shows how rich the heritage of Roma and Eastern European music is, adding a modern sensibility without losing any of its emotion or meaning.

review by
Dave Howell

13 September 2008

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