DARIA KULESH and JONNY DYER live at Cecil Sharp House

Daria Kulesh and Jonny Dyer
Photographs by Dai Jeffries

This wasn’t a launch event, more a pre-launch preview event for Daria’s forthcoming album, Earthly Delights, and a unique opportunity for fans to pre-order the record for delivery before Christmas. The rest of the world will just have to contain its impatience. Performing as a duo these weren’t the album arrangements but I asked Jonny what the full version of one particularly powerful song would be like. His answer: “like that only bigger and louder”.

Before the main event they started with five songs from Daria’s seasonal EPs beginning with Loreena McKennitt’s ‘The Mummers’ Dance’ from Spring Delights before moving into summer with ‘Like An Old-Fashioned Waltz’. Autumn was represented by an impassioned ‘No Man’s Land’ and Daria was really on fire but she calmed things down with ‘Les Feuilles Mortes’. Most performers use its English translation but Daria sang Yves Montand’s original French version before polishing off the hors d’oeuvres with ‘Who Knows Where The Time Goes?’.

Daria KuleshIf the title Earthly Delights conjures up visions of Hieronymus Bosch, you’re not too far off. After the painful journey that led to Long Lost Home Daria says that this album will be playful and a celebration of human needs and desires but there is an inescapable sensuality about her performances and the title track is as much earthy as Earthly. “Sing a song of your soul” is the line that sticks in the memory while Jonny’s bouzouki powered through. ‘Shame Or Glory’ is about ambition but with a twist as William Topaz McGonagall and Florence Foster Jenkins are Daria’s role models here. The first set closed with ‘Quiet Joys Of Brotherhood’ in complete contrast.

The second half contained the real meat of the evening and was more exotic and more Russian, with elements of myth and fairy tale. I don’t want to give too much away now because Daria and Jonny played the whole album although, as Daria was at pains to point out, not necessarily in the right order. There were some songs we’ve heard before including ‘Rusalka’ and ‘Maid Of Light’ reworked from Kara’s first album together with ‘Pride Of Petravore’ which was just an instrumental back then. ‘Vasilisa’ was a single and is one of Daria’s big folklore ballads and finally they encored with Daria’s tri-lingual ‘Those Were The Days’ with the audience joining in with whatever language they could.

Jonny DyerIt has to be said that Jonny Dyer is the accompanist who is most simpatico as far as Daria is concerned and always brings out the best in her and I say that having heard them together three times now. This was a super show and I’m looking forward to the album and the band that has been assembled to perform it.

Dai Jeffries

Artist’s website: http://www.daria-kulesh.co.uk/

‘Vasilisa’ – official video:

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