Review: Birgit Õigemeel – Uus Algus

  • Rating 5
  • Artist Birgit Õigemeel
  • Album title Uus Algus
  • Label Enjoy Entertainment
  • Release date Tue, 3 December 2013

After many attempts, young Ms Õigemeel finally managed to succeed in qualifying for the Eurovision Song Contest to represent her beloved Estonia with the classic ballad Et Uus Saaks Alguse. Her latest release Uus Algus is written chiefly by the same succesful team and the album has a pleasant suprise for Eurovision fans.

Released at the beginning of the month, Uus Algus (New Beginning) is the fourth studio album from Birgit Õigemeel. Starting out by going all the way and winning the first series of the talent show Eesti Otsib Superstaari, the budding artist was still unsure of her musical style. That was back in 2007. Since then, her transformation as an artist is remarkable and whereas past work has been rather hit and miss, patchy in places, her newest effort clearly demonstrates why she is one of Estonia’s favourite female vocalists today.

After many attempts, young Ms Õigemeel finally managed to succeed in qualifying for the Eurovision Song Contest to represent her beloved Estonia with the classic ballad Et Uus Saaks Alguse. Her latest release Uus Algus is written chiefly by the same succesful team and the album has a pleasant suprise for Eurovision fans.

For her fourth album, she has enlisted the help of Mihkel Mattisen, together with amongst others Silvia Soro and Timo Vendt, who were the team behind her Eurovision entry this year, Et Uus Saaks Alguse. A similar sound is echoed in places on the album, but what we have here is a well crafted work falling somewhere between the pop and country genres.

The album is opened by Olen Loodud Rändama (My Journey) which has a similar intro to Et Uus Saaks Alguse (So There Can Be a New Beginning). The use of twanging country guitars, sweeping strings and a gentle, rolling melody give the opening track an almost dreamlike feel. Et Uus Saaks Alguse picks up where Olen Loodud Rändama left off – an understated, sweet ballad that should blow listeners away with the clarity and pitch of Birgit’s vocal. I didn’t even rate this before going to Malmö, but coming back it was my clear favourite. There’s just something so honest about the song.

Time for a change of tempo and in with Nii Täiuslik See (It’s So Perfect), a bright and breezy little number that brims with joy and innocence, fleeting and delicate as an Estonian summer. The use of eukelele merely heightens the feelgood feeling you’re left with after a listen. Lendame Valguskiirusel (We Fly At The Speed of Light) takes a completely different turn, with Birgit turning the heat up a notch with what has massive hit written all over it. An uptempo rock number which has the same kind of urgency as Coldplay’s Viva La Vida about it but at the same time sounds unmistakeably Estonian. With it’s ooh ooh ooh ooh intro to the chorus this is a perfect slice of pop rock confectionery and is utterly irresistible.

On Meie Naer (Our Laughter) a baby’s laughter opens the track, nicely coinciding with the recent birth of Birgit’s baby boy back in October. A tender ballad, with a delicate chorus acts as a stark contrast to its gutsy predecessor. Just over halfway on the album and Igatsus (Longing) is a mid tempo ballad awash with layered vocals and acoustic guitars and is pleasant enough, if a little aimless in places. Kolm Kuud (Three Months) is a completely different affair; a drive that lifts the album to the same heights as Lendame Valguskiirusel with a hint of ABBA and a mighty handsome melody.

On the album’s eight track, Nähtamatult (Invisibly), we’re transported back to Nashville for a song in the finest American country vein, with a beautiful, warm fiddle that fits the earthy, ogranic feel of the song perfectly. Pea Meeles Head (Remember The Good Times) is again no exception to the album, which sees Birgit in fine voice with another fragile ballad that will be a nice surprise for fans of Estonian Eurovision, as it features none other than Ott Lepland of Kuula fame. Yet again this has a distinct country feel to it, but their voices blend as if they belong together, alternating between tranquil parts and the higher, more uplifting parts where they duet. Another of the definitive highlights on the album. Uus Algus is brought to a befitting end by the highly emotive, piano led ballad Hingerahu Paik (Place for Peace of Mind). A tearful, melancholic effort, this is Birgit at her very best; captivating, stunningly simple, this should tug at the strings of even the hardest of hearts. 

Uus Algus can be purchased digitally on iTunes and  a physical copy of her CD can be bought on her official website through PayPal.

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