“Muna” by Marketa Irglova

I just discovered this album (thanks, iTunes recommendations!) and I was simply blown away by it on first listen.  Haunting instrumentals are topped by Irglova’s soaring voice, which brings the religious and spiritual themes of the songs to life, giving the impression (if I may be forgiven the fancifulness) of an angel come to earth, or a fairy visiting the mortal realm.

Given the combination of female vocalist and non-synthetic, almost classical musical background, the comparisons with Tori Amos are inevitable, and as a huge Amos fan I can say that the similarities are certainly there, and Amos fans owe it to themselves to check this artist out.  And yet Irglova is no mere Amos knock-off, but a powerful singer and songwriter in her own right, with a distinctive sound all her own.  In particular, her European background–Irglova is Czech, currently residing in Iceland–can be heard in the echoes and resonances of European-style folk and church music, as well as hints of Gypsy and Middle Eastern outpourings, as opposed to Amos’s bluesy Carolina roots.  The total effect is something that will appeal to lovers of the Amos strain in modern popular music, but that stands out as unique.

Thematically, the album cycles through creation and re-creation, starting with the church bells of the opening track, “Point of Creation,” which starts us on our journey through birth and rebirth.  We set off on a journey in the gorgeously evocative track “The Leading Bird,” searching for signs in “Fortune Teller,” with its Middle Eastern ululations, and “Without a Map,” before experiencing rebirth in “Mary,” “Phoenix,” and “Seasons Change,” another stand-out track.  The album ends with “This Right Here,” bringing us back, thematically, to our original point of creation.

In sum, if you’re looking for pounding bass and synthetic scratchiness, you’re going to be disappointed in this album, but music aficionados hoping to go on a spiritual journey that combines old-world sensibilities and an other-worldly sound should put this album on their playlist without delay.

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