The Radost Folk Ensemble,
Heirloom: 25 Years
(self-produced, 2001)

Radost is a mixed, varied roster of musicians and performers working with the folk music of Eastern Europe. There are 10 separate groups working under the Radost label on Heirloom: 25 Years, but they all bring the spirit of radost, of joy, into their work.

That joy is evident even in the heavy, somber male voices of "Zvira Voda" and the sobbing voices of the women on "Ja Sam Mala." But it's on the lighter and more spirited tracks that the groups really show off. "Lepi Juro" calls the listener to dance across the language barrier. There are wonderful instrumental pieces, like the ensorcelling "Cupurlika" with its snake-charming twists of music. But most of the album is taken up with surprising vocal choreographies like "Dena Sliza Ot Goritsa," as women's voices rise and fade and call the ear to somewhere far off. I found myself favoring the women's songs, but with 26 tracks to choose from, there's variety enough to satisfy every folk dance-lover's preference.

Radost is a performing group, and as satisfying as this album is, I can't help wishing that I could see the dances and routines that accompany the songs. Those who have the chance should take in one of their performances; it's obvious these songs should have action behind them. But for all of us not lucky enough to see them in person, Heirloom shares some of the joy of Radost without the journey.

- Rambles
written by Sarah Meador
published 9 November 2002