KARA - Some Other Shore

2016 studio album

Some Other Shore - KARA

the bright young folk review

Some Other Shore is an inspired fusion of English and Russian traditional influences, juxtaposing earthy life stories and experiences with dream-filled seascapes and vistas.

KARA comprise Phil Underwood (melodeon), Ben Honey (guitar), Kate Rouse (hammered dulcimer) and Daria Kulesh (vocals). On first consideration this appears an unusual ensemble, however when woven around Kulesh’s exceptional, crystal-clear vocals, a wonderfully atmospheric and spirited sound is created. The versatility of songs and styles come together well, bringing each band member’s character and influence to the album.

Kate Rouse’s hammered dulcimer is ethereal and brings an otherworldly feel. This is especially the case in Goodbye and Forgive Me, a tragic and emotional recounting of a woman’s loveless marriage and sad demise. Daria Kulesh’s vocal delivery expresses the pathos and emotion within the story.

There is a distinctly continental feel to Hollingbourne, which paints a vivid scene of community dancing, whilst Broadhurst Garden is a quintessentially English tune which transports the listener to an English village scene. Underwood’s skilled melodeon playing takes centre stage on both these excellent original tunes.

Daria Kulesh soulfully sings Ataman, a traditional Russian song telling a poignant tale of the futility of war, with sympathetic and authentic accompaniment. Misery and Vodka, a well-known Russian song, builds to a breathless dancing pace powered by Ben Honey’s pulsing guitar playing, with atmospheric dulcimer and melodeon also accompanying Kulesh’s entrancing vocals.

Seaview is an uplifting windswept track whose sails unfurl in the breeze as vocals and instrumentation merge to take the listener to a place where they are as free as a seabird. Refreshing and invigorating, this track brings contrast to some of the more challenging themes explored in the album.

In Lovers’ Tasks, Kate Rouse has taken a traditional version of Scarborough Fair, from Cecil Sharpe’s collection, and arranged it into a delightful and refreshing song. As a qualified herbalist she vouches for the fact that it is “setherwood, sale” rather than the more commonly accepted “parsley and sage”. The song blends and morphs into Black Tea Waltz, Rouse’s own fine composition, complementing and completing this enjoyable pairing of old and new.

Some Other Shore delivers an immersive experience full of evocative images and stories of love and loss, with skilled musicianship and memorable vocals. This is an exceptionally fine and enjoyable album full of contrasts and carefully crafted and delivered by a band who are undoubtedly destined for continued success and acclaim.

Andy McMillan

Self released on 3 June 2016.

1. Tamara’s Wedding
2. Seaview
3. Lovers’ Tasks / Black Tea Waltz
4. Goodbye and Forgive Me
5. Adrienne
6. Hollingbourne / Broadhurst Gardens
7. Misery and Vodka
8. Carousel Waltz
9. Stormteller
10. Leigh Fishermen
11. Devilry Dance
12. Ataman

KARA discography