Při Mnĕ Stůj
(Stand By Me)
This album from the Czech Republic is based around female vocal and piano accordion, and packs quite a punch. Radůza sings and plays in an immediately recognizable Eastern European style rooted in folk, although also influenced by chanson (French song) at times -- as illustrated in the closing song "Ať neni mi lito." Characteristically, the songs have considerable gusto, although occasionally the singing does become a little forced. Also a danger with accordion accompaniment is that it can give the impression of making different numbers sound similar to each other. However, Radůza is a talented singer-songwriter and there is a lot of originality here in a range of material that makes a strong impact overall.
The two highlight tracks are when the accordion accompaniment is replaced by the guitar and bass of two guest musicians -- Omar Khaouaj and Frantisek Raba. Both "Studeny nohy" and "Bremen" have a really contemporary feel with an upbeat and lively edge, too -- in more of an alt pop than folk style. Also of note are "Krahujci" (again without accordion), which is more ethereal and really suiting the jazzier side of Radůza's voice and "Poloz mĕ" -- another original composition, this time with a more spiritual dimension to the music.
Although this is an album to be enjoyed especially by people who enjoy the piano accordion, the distinctive singing and songwriting will ensure that the album has wider appeal, too.