Music Review: Lizabett Russo Trio: A Night of Romanian Traditional Music. Leith Depot, Edinburgh

A Romanian singer-songwriter now based in Scotland and making quite an impression on the music scene here, Lizabett Russo reverts to her native folk song in this cosy (though with noisy air conditioning) cabaret-style setting.

Lizabett Russo brings folk songs from Romania.

Lizabett Russo Trio: A Night of Romanian Traditional Music. Leith Depot, Edinburgh * * * *

She is a natural singer of power and passion, her voice swooping through octaves, couched in the very contemporary but empathetic company of guitarist Graeme Stephen and double-bassist Brodie Jarvie.

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If the prospect of a night of Romanian folk song sounds daunting, shed any preconceptions: Russo’s singing is melodic, beguiling and by and large demolishes linguistic barriers – although, ideally, some translated lyric sheets might be welcome.

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Opening with a drift of wordless vocalising over murmuring bass and guitar, she gradually shifts into full song. Stephen’s guitar deploys discreet effects pedals, sounding in nimble unison with the song line or laying down a snappy accompaniment with Jarvie, as in a cheerfully jog-along number from Moldova that Russo assures us is all about making moonshine but is “actually quite sad”.

In fact, she muses, much of her repertoire is nostalgic and concerning the passage of time, although time passes very easily in the company of her songs, whether melancholic or exuberant, her hands at times as expressive as her voice.

Stephen and Jarvie leave her for a couple of numbers which include Hai, Dunarea Mea, a song about the Danube she learned from her grandfather, which she sings with unencumbered clarity, accompanying herself simply on that rather un-Romanian little guitar, the charango. She thanks us “for putting up with my ridiculous explanations,” but really needn’t apologise: her trio’s performance is well worth it.

Again on 10 August