RUSSIA Boris Grebenshikov: Russian Songwriter (Boris Grebenshikov/ Dolores Canavan) (Naxos: 76039-2)
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The singer-songwriter tradition of any country reflects the hearts and thoughts of the people, and in Russia this is no different. In quiet, often acoustic settings, the artist performs his music, making the song and its words the focus above all else. Through vivid lyrics, metaphorical language, and soulful melody, the singer-songwriter can mask controversial and difficult topics to bring his message home, or simply convey his most personal thoughts through music.
During the days of the Soviet Union, artists like Vysotsky, Vertinsky, and Okudjava pioneered the Russian singer-songwriter style. All wrote on themes central to Russian life, sang with heartfelt passion, popularized a genre for the people and about the people, and, through their individual and unique styles of performances, ensured the lasting popularity of the singer-songwriter.
The listener is fortunate to have this survey of Russian song presented by legendary singer/songwriter Boris Grebenshikov. Since the 1970s, Grebenshikov and his band, Akvarium (Aquarium) have been one of the most important influences on the development of popular Russian music and its cultural consequences. From their underground roots on the Leningrad rock scene to the national acclaim of the present day, Akvarium has never ceased to be a powerful force in Russian music.
Although some would say the poet Grebenshikov rivals the musician within, the key to the longevity and global popularity of his style may be that Grebenshikovs songs transcend language and nationality. His ability to connect with listeners and communicate even the most complex of emotions through his songcraft remains Grebenshikovs most remarkable and wonderful talent.
Grebenshikovs legacy includes hundreds of songs, but for this collection he has chosen to present a selection of those that influenced him (by others before him), those that inspire him, and those he has personally added to the singer-songwriter tradition of his country that are beautifully and thoroughly Russian.
Dolores Canavan, Producer