Life is so beautiful Estonian Life
Toward the end of 2017 a package, suspiciously CD sized, arrived from Montréal. The sender was Valmar Kurol, an artist, photographer and composer whose two CDs of music inspired by Antarctica have been introduced, deservedly so one may add, on these pages and have provided listeners with hours of calm, meditative pleasure. Thus there was anticipation of more of the same, before opening the padded envelope.
And that expectation did not lead to disappointment. However, a pleasant surprise. The recording was of Carole Desmarteau’s, Valmar’s wife, songs, very appropriately titled Only for you. Sounds of love and life. Valmar has an important role on this CD as co-author of the lyrics on 8 tracks of the 15 on the recording; all others and the compositions are Desmarteau’s. He has also provided the photographs, assisted with the arrangements, and produced this lovely recording. Michael Stibor, Valmar’s partner in the Antarctica recordings was also deeply involved, providing the guitar and synthesizer playing as well as the programming and mixing. Album graphics are by Michael Valcenat. Thus, even before listening, a quality musical experience was assured.
Carole Desmarteau is no stranger to Montréal Estonians. She has sung solos at the Christmas services for many years at Montréal’s EELK Jaani (St. John’s) Lutheran Church, with Karl Raudsepp as organ accompanist. Although not Estonian, she has sung solos in Estonian for several groups such as the pensioners club in Montréal, as well as on Mother’s Day. She has also sung and entertained at seniors’ residences and nursing homes for the past twelve years. Thus more than capable of soothing as well as passionate performances, as the CD amply proves.
The recording is best described as Adult Contemporary, covering many styles such as country, Latin, R&B and folk rock. The foundation supporting Desmarteau’s mellifluous singing, Stibor’s soulful synthesizer and guitar work, is stellar. The accompanying booklet provides the lyrics, which confirm the album’s title. Indeed, one of the standouts here is Life is so Beautiful. The first verse needs emphasizing: “ Every time you look at me// My life becomes a fairy tale// A lovely melody, a fragrant rose, a carousel”. Most definitely a song about love, as the second last line states: life is so beautiful, it is ”simply incredible” to feel this way.
This track is followed by another quite gorgeous tune, also co-authored by Valmar. Only for you finds that “Only you can fill my days with sunshine”. As – and how, an important distinction - Desmarteau expresses this emotion it is not a Hallmark sentiment. Rather, it is a genuine outpouring of appreciation and gratitude.
Estonian-Canadians may connect with the track The Colour of Blood, about the refugee experience. As members of the diaspora, for many of us, born wherever freedom was found, descendants of refugees tossed into a harsh world after the Soviet occupation of Estonia, fleeing terror and intolerance, this song resonates. Alas, 74 years after the mass exodus from Estonia cruelty still reigns in far too many parts of the globe.
Yet another standout is What Does it Take, where Stibor is joined by saxophonist Joe Fiore as Desmarteau sings “ I’ll be your rock, the one you can count on// Right by your side, I’ll have your back.”
This quality recording is soothing. Also most invigorating with its positive messages. The appeal is likely greatest for the boomer generation. No surprise, as Valmar and his chanteuse spouse are from that cohort. As is this listener. A welcome relief from much of what passes for music these days. And just like the Antarctica recordings to be enjoyed in a dimly lit, perhaps a toasty fire-enhanced room, far from the hurly-burly.
More on this most pleasing disc can be found at the website www.soundsofloveandlife.com The CD is available through Amazon and itunes. Certainly, an enjoyable, calming and positive recording.