Review Summary: Recorded in the mid ‘70s, this demo of songs would make Arleta’s first legitimate effort for an international career at that time, if her label hadn’t decided to misplace it for no credible reason.
During the mid ‘60s, Arleta Tsapra (a combination of her two full names Ar
) had released two fine albums of acoustic folk (Αρλετα
(1966) and 2
(1967)). At that time, she was part of the so-called “new wave” of Greek folk music, along with several of her artistic contemporaries. Unfortunately, Greece’s political situation during the ‘60s was in constant turmoil and this prolonged instability led to the 7-year (1967-1974) military dictatorship. The oppressive regime censored Arleta’s music and forced her to refrain from any artistic activities, effective from 1970 onwards. With her turn, Arleta legitimately thought that her career had come to a premature end. To her great fortune though, her records had reached some dedicated ears across Europe and in that respect, she was invited in Paris by the acclaimed French composer Georges Moustaki for several live performances.
After that rejoicing period, Arleta returned to the homeland and upon the completion of some mandatory session recording activity on behalf of some acclaimed Greek composers, her label, Lyra Records, finally promised her that she would make a solo album on her own terms. In that light, she recorded the record Ταξιδεύοντας
) in 1976. At that time Arleta was offered to record a series of songs with English lyrics, as a first attempt for an international career. Indeed, Lyra Records gave Arleta a day’s time for recording the songs, with the lyrics written by Sasha Brewis and the music being partly Arleta’s material left from Ταξιδεύοντας
, along with some compositions from classical guitarist/composer Anestos Triantafillou. This demo of songs would make Arleta’s first legitimate effort for an international career outside Greece, if her label hadn’t decided to misplace it for no credible reason.
revolves around Arleta’s vocals (all tracks) and her classical guitar work (on tracks 1-4 and 7-10), further endorsed by the classical guitar work from Triantafillou (on tracks 2, 5, 6-10). The overall tone of the album is melancholic, calm and peaceful, a near-perfect companion to a glass of wine for easing the angst of the day that’s passed, during the small hours of the night. The level of proficiency of both guitarists is impeccable, even though the things played on the classical guitar, are not technically demanding for the most part. Instead, the said high level of musicianship has been infused in the magnificent simplicity and effectiveness characterizing the arrangements of the songs. Some of them are relying in just one simple, melancholic or playful tune (“Fortress”, “Duchess of Nobody”). Some songs on the other hand, are more diverse with 2 or 3 mournful (for the most part) melodies complementing and succeeding each other perfectly (“Puppet Kings”, “Red Rose”, “Dragonfly”).
In view of Arleta’s intimate vocals, it can be said that they are supporting the atmospheric tone of the album perfectly. First thing that strikes positively in her performance is her near-perfect English accent, in the sense that hardly anyone can claim she is not a native English speaker, without knowing so from the start. Her gently tone is accompanied by her equally gentle, yet powerful vibrato, which is also used on several occasions for emulating the sound of instruments such as a harmonica, for instance. The introvert nature of her vocals with respect to Sasha Brewis’s lyrics is like a glove that perfectly fits and warms a cold hand on a winter’s day. The topics covered are quite diverse, referring to the ever going voyage of mind and flesh in search of wisdom and self completeness, the dark and unpredictable nature of female mentality or the sense of loss with regard to dear friends or lovers.
A snap of the fingers and the dream is gone. Where does this album leave everyone? The great potential hidden in it, was not exploited in the proper time and space frame. Unfortunately, the album serves only as an excellent hint of what might have been, should Arleta was allowed to spread her wings abroad. In the album’s liner notes and in interviews given in Greek music media, she would claim having no recollection of this material's existence (!) in the first place. As time cannot be turned back, all that can be done is to enjoy and disseminate this material as much as possible and point anew the finger of scorn towards the short-minded practice of labels with regard to their artists.