Laina Tullaugak,
(Inukshuk, 1999)

Traditional meets contemporary in Piaraapivut from Inuit singer Laina Tullaugak. The seven songs on this CD feature lyrics sung in Inuit and melodies with pop-folk-country sensibilities. Tullaugak also incorporates traditional throat singing into some of the songs, an unusual sound that adds a very different dimension to the music.

In addition to vocals and throat singing, Tullaugak plays acoustic guitar. She is backed up on the recording by Eric Brassard (electric and acoustic guitar, rhythm, lead and bass guitar), Martin Periard (drums) and Daniel Godro (keyboard, bass guitar, studio shaker). Tullaugak's voice is deep and unpolished, but it is that rough hewn edge that makes her stand out. Her voice thins out on the higher notes, and her most effective performances are on the songs that make use of her lower register.

Her throat singing takes some getting used to at first, but it does add to the songs in a positive way, emphasizing the overlap of the traditional with the contemporary. The backup performances are generally good; sometimes the accompaniment becomes a bit bland rather than a foil for Tullaugak's voice. The lyrics are translated in the CD leaflet, and the English doesn't do the themes or the music justice. I recommend you skip them and just enjoy the sounds and vocal acrobatics.

The only thing about this CD that gave me pause was the third track, "Nalliqiluturakkit (When We Were Little Girls)." The melody sounds almost exactly like "The Sounds of Silence" with a few minor changes, which struck me as a natural adaptation for a voice that can't get into the higher register easily. There is nothing on the CD acknowledging that or, for that matter, crediting the writers of any of the songs, whether Tullaugak or anyone else.

Apart from that concern, Piaraapivut is a CD with instant appeal that will make an interesting addition to any indigenous music lover's collection.

[ by Donna Scanlon ]
Rambles: 28 September 2002

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