Sonja Kristina,
Songs from the Acid Folk
(1991; Market Square, 2001)

First off, apologies to American readers: the first few sentences will not make much sense because the band never conquered your land. OK, hands up anyone who was there in the 1960s and '70s -- and remembers the times. One of the better if not most famous bands of the era was called Curved Air. Unfortunately, the band folded and is no more.

Thankfully, one of the voices of that band is available to the 21st century lovers of great folk music. I refer to Sonja Kristina, and if you hear this CD you will hunger for those far-off days and wish you could hear more of the songs of Curved Air.

Sonja has a fabulous voice. It reminds me of the maturity of Joan Baez but -- no offence to Joan -- she sounds much more mellow and musical.

The album opens with the beautiful "Anna." Like most of the tracks, it is written by Sonja and reflects the fruits of an apprenticeship well spent in music. "Devil May Care" is a more rock-oriented song, but it is well produced and performed.

She slows matters down on "Melinda More or Less," and the vocal with bongo opening will hypnotize you and keep you mesmerized for the rest of the track as the music backing builds but never clouds the lovely voice.

My favourite song on the album is the wonderful "Colder Than a Rose." It takes us back to the best of the earlier folk boom when Cohen, Dylan and the rest were writing and performing and were heard on every radio station. Sadly, today they might not get sufficient airplay to make a living and Sonja could face the same problem. This song deserves wider audience and would be worth the cost of the album to hear it alone. The vocals, the music, the arrangement and the sentiments just gel and produce a masterpiece.

"One to One" is another excellent track. It has a marimba-type sound that will transport you as you listen to the dulcet tones of this singer as she reminds us of the difficulty of relationships that will touch all hearts.

Sonja gives us a collection of songs that will delight. There are up-tempo and slow ballads -- I must confess that I prefer the slower tracks as they allow us to luxuriate in that voice.

The notes tell us that this is a re-issue of an original 1991 release with three bonus tracks. Market Square is doing a public service in releasing this and other albums on their catalogue to give a new generation the chance to hear some great music that might have lingered in limbo without them.

I hope that many thousands of listeners hear and appreciate this top-class talent.

- Rambles
written by Nicky Rossiter
published 13 August 2005

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