Sandra Vabarna’s, Jalmar. Vabarna and Tonu Tubli are Estonian Power trio Trad Attack! Both the band and their album BRING IT ON could not be more aptly named if they were called OMG what is that. The exclamation mark is deserved and not hyperbolic. There is so much fine music in the world, and there is nothing better than when you discover an original act putting their own spin on music they love.
With its pulsing pop energy, Laur Joamets ‘Purple Rain’ squalling electric guitars and vocals with a touch of Manu Chao, “Lase Kaia” is full of Trad Attack!. This is infectious feel good music at its best. “Keera” is an uplifting work song, improbable jungle like beats stutter behind the Seto Singers. The rhythm is infectious but the music is sublime and soothing. Estonian Bagpipes dance with Tonu Tubli muscular drums and some sinister vocals on “Pidu Loppeb”. Stand out track “Maka” has Sandra Vabarna’s stunning voice swirling like the New Age Folk of Scottish Niteworks, alongside beautiful brass and something that might be electronics or distorted guitar. Whatever the ingredients or the recipe the completed track is utterly beautiful. The sequencing of the album reinforces the band’s belief that ‘changes move us forward – bring it on’. So after a passage of bliss comes the floor filler “Ann Lats Aita” a real banger. Recordings from the Estonian folklore Archives, ride with squelching beats, a hook from Madonna’s “Ray Of Light” and it’s an exhilarating trip. “Liugu Laugu”, another stand out piece, sees Trad Attack joined by The East Pointers on an at times Ed Sheeran like beautiful piece of Folk Pop Electronica. Yemen Blues’ Ravid Kahalani, a man used to musical surprises and collisions, adds his voice to a compelling choir on “Oelge Sonnu” a powerful song about differences and similarities. “Ella” a song to call shepherds home, seethes and pulses with 80s keyboards stabs and more big production guitar. Again the collision is beautiful. “Tere” fizzes with Martin Laksberg’s funky bass and seering guitar alongside the Uillean Pipes like Estonian Bagpipes. Georgian Choir Iberi add sublime vocals and wonderful Duduk to the stunning “Kiigelaul”. At about two minutes twenty five the vocalists echo the timbre of the Duduk and I am literally transported, coming down only to add Iberi to my list of musicians to check out. “Puksata Magama” is a traditional work song, turned into a jump in the air affirmation of life ending the album on a blood pumping high.
Trad Attack! take Estonian music and infuse it with a contemporary musical sensibility and some pop music studio sheen. The blend is deft, clever but also vital and infectious. The cover shot of a pastoral lanscape infused with morning light speaks of a new beginning. After five albums carried on a power trio rock sound and a bit of punk curled lip, it seems that the 2022 Remixed album has started wider musical experimentation and some inspired collaborations that make compelling listening. This is sweet sounding, full of depth and a treat for the ears.
Marc Higgins 28/04/23