Words by Fiona Talkington
An astonishing return to form
Having worked with Värttinä earlier in 2015, I had a sense that their new album was going to be something special. There was a light in their eyes when they talked about it, and an excitement about returning to their musical roots. The result, Viena, exceeds expectations. The sound is superb, the playing immaculate, and the three singers are on fire. It’s also enormous fun and a huge achievement for a band that has been through so many changes: they can proudly say that the Värttinä sound is as strong as ever.
Thirty years in the business has made them part of Finnish musical history and given them the scope to explore many different paths. This album connects right back to their early days as children performing traditional music. Now their visits to Karelia to hear the last surviving runo singers has given them new inspiration. The clean, sharp sound of the unaccompanied vocals in ‘Raija’s Yoik’ are bristling with energy and ‘Kanaset’ is simply Värttinä at their very best. Die-hard fans will be putting this right up there among their best albums; new arrivals will find it a great place to start.