18 September 2014
Something remarkable happened when I listened to Birgit Õigemeel’s fourth album, “Uus Algus”, for the first time last weekend: Never have I been as thoroughly engrossed all the way through an album on a first listen before. It was more than just the brilliant and delightful songs populated throughout. The entire journey was perfect, with Birgit’s lovely vocals teamed with the right songs and perfectly placed over the album that made the package so complete and enchanting. I just had to play it again, and then again. So I did, and I did.
Birgit represented Estonia at the Eurovision Song Contest of 2013 in Malmo with the song “Et uus saaks alguse”, reaching the final. The album kicks off in familiar vein with “Olen loodud rändama”, which delivers Birgit’s signature purring lower register in an even more pronounced and captivating form than we heard at Eurovision. You can almost picture her swaying to the song in her inimitable style, hips one way and her flowing jet black hair the other, as you are listening to it.
After “Et uus saaks alguse”, the album punches through the middle sections with a glorious succession of middle and up-tempo songs that form one seemingly endless spellbinding chorus, before landing on “Pea meeles head” at song 9 – a duet with Estonia’s Eurovision entrant of 2012, Ott Lepland. This is a delightful song in which both voices complement ether so well. Ott is thankfully restrained, perfectly settled into his sweet vocal spot, rather than the mess he made at Eurovision when he inexplicable decided to scream his lungs out performing his classic “Kuula”. If there’s a pattern in Estonian music is that they are not show offs. There’s a pride in delivering an understated, genuine performance, and this sentiment is felt in this song and right throughout the album.
The album winds down with the final two songs, as it should. “Elades hetkes” is a return to the tempo of the opening two songs, albeit with some beautiful harmonies thrown in and Birgit nestled into a growlier area of her lower register. “Hingerahu” is the obligatory slow song often seen to round off an album. Thankfully, unlike the pretentious drivel many artists choose to tack on to the end, Birgit’s offering succeeds, letting you down easily from the journey you were just on, and preparing you to start it again.
That was the first three listens, and since then, I’ve listened to the album at least another 10 times. Obviously some songs have bubbled to the top as more favoured than others. “Meie naer” (song 5) will provoke a reaction with the baby sounds at the start. Birgit was 5 months pregnant at Eurovision and this song is obviously an ode to her baby. If there’s one thing that can snap you out of a hypnotic state of bliss it is the whine or giggle of a baby. It can be truly petrifying. While I’d prefer these very brief sounds gone, I’ll let it pass in the name of an artist’s indulgence. It doesn’t really harm the album, or the song, which proves to be a sweet song with its jazzy inflection and tempo progression. “Nähtamatult” (song 8) is a steady song with a hint of folk in it. If I had to pinpoint anything as “least favourites”, they could be two. One minor niggle is that “Et uus saaks alguse” is the 3 minute Eurovision version, not the the original 4 minute version (see below).
Absolute favourite songs would be the rocking “Lendame valguskiirusel” (song 4), the anthemic “Igatsus” (6),”Pea meeles head” (9), “Elades hetkes” (10) and the first two songs. Then there is “Nii täiuslik see” (3) and “Kolm kuud” (7) – both bop along nicely, with the former a charming, fun effort, and the latter more emotive. Really, to separate each song is an injustice as they all form to combine this beautiful package.
If you liked Birgit’s song or her voice at Eurovision, this album is essential. If you didn’t like her at Eurovision, what the hell is wrong with you?
01. Olen loodud rändama
02. Et uus saaks alguse
03. Nii täiuslik see
04. Lendame valguskiirusel
05. Meie naer
07. Kolm kuud
09. Pea meeles head (with Ott Lepland)
10. Elades hetkes
Until 30 September 2014, Birgit is offering a package of her album and chocolate for just 15 EUR, or just under 20 USD. Shipping is free, worldwide. Order at www.birgit.ee
Even though I bought Birgit’s album when I was in Estonia in late May (and missed out on the chocolates!), I’ve used apollo.ee for ordering direct from Estonia to Australia before. http://www.apollo.ee/birgit-uus-algus-cd.html