Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Krystyna Stanko – Uslysz Mnie (2008)

Krystyna Stanko - vocals
Jacek Krolik - guitar
Piotr Zaczek - bass
Piotr Lemanczyk - bass
Piotr Krolik - drums


By Adam Baruch

This is the fourth album by Polish singer / songwriter Krystyna Stanko, which marks an end of the initial phase of her career during which she tried to establish a unique identity, both as a songwriter and a singer. All through that phase she moved between Pop, Alternative Rock and even Jazz-Rock Fusion and recorded three albums with two different groups she was part of at the time and finally recorded this, her "real" debut solo album. The album presents twelve songs, eleven of which are original creations by Stanko (lyrics and music) and the last one is a tribute to the great Polish Jazz pianist / composer / arranger Andrzej Kurylewicz, who wrote this beautiful lullaby to the words of Polish National Poet Adam Mickiewicz, which was previously magnificently performed by the great Niemen.

The album was recorded during two separate recording sessions, almost a couple of years apart. Stanko is basically accompanied by a trio: guitarist Jacek Krolik, bassists Piotr Zaczek (electric) or Piotr Lemanczyk (acoustic) and drummer Piotr Krolik with five additional musicians contributing occasionally on several tracks. In spite of this rather limited instrumental accompaniment, the overall result is beautifully coherent and sounds complete as it is. Her vocals are the focus of this album, and rightly so, as her vocal abilities, her intelligent treatment of the lyrics and her emotional range are all of star quality, in evidence of her coming of age as an artist and a vocalist.

But the most amazing thing about this album is of course the quality of the original songs, all of which are excellently crafted musically and adorned by meaningful, sometimes witty and always sincere lyrics, which are extremely rare these days. Stanko doesn't hold back and dares to touch on painful subjects and deeply personal feelings about human relationships and even political / social issues, reminiscent of the protest songs of the 1960s. In complete contrast to the brainless lyrics the showbiz and media use to brainwash the human race, these songs really have something to say.

In retrospect one might lament the fact that Stanko did not (yet) repeat this format, i.e. writing lyrics and music herself, in her next albums, hoping that this will be remedied soon. Her decision to move into the Jazz & Poetry realm is now completely understandable of course. This album lost nothing of its charm and freshness over time. It's probably less perfect than her later recordings, but who cares; this is a beautiful collection of superb songs, which should make any listener happy. Grab it before it disappears forever!

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