no. 24 / Winter 2004
Vancouver's Zeellia specializes in Eastern European folk songs in the traditional style of 'bilij holos' or 'pure voice'. They are Beverly Dobrinsky, Carmen Rosen and Bessie Wapp on vocals accompanied by guest singers and a band featuring accordion, fiddle, bass, clarinet and percussion. They deliver Slavic folksongs from Ukraine, the Balkan and Baltic states, and the Canadian prairies with fire and passion. The singing is lusty and has a dark and mysterious feel that goes back to its pre-Christian roots. The harmonies are intensely beautiful. The lyrics deal with Slavic mythology, love, farming, fertility and nature unadorned. The music is skillfully played and well crafted to suit the arrangements and mood, be it mournful or celebratory.
- By Tim Readman