The year 2021 has not yet brought significant women’s pop albums on the domestic scene – and it is nearing its end. Ewa Farna is entering a market that does not currently offer comparable competition with her new studio after seven years. He returns with the album “Umami”, purely personal and his most successful so far.
We paused on the music server two years ago over the lack of active singers in Czech popular music. Last year was better in this respect, but this year it is as if the women came to the microphone again – except for a few representatives of the independent scene. Thank you all the more for “Umami”.
Coincidentally, Ewa Farna comes up with her fifth Czech-sung series, shortly after she was crowned a golden nightingale for the first time in a popularity poll. It can be perceived as a certain symbolism, because the still hot news really captures it at the peak of her studio endeavors. She tried to break out of the box of the teen star with her previous act “Leporelo”, but she stayed halfway there. This time she managed what she set out to do – she recorded an adult, craft-pop pop album with content. It was surrounded by many collaborators from the ranks of composers and producers, including international ones. As a result, it has achieved an up-to-date mainstream sound comparable to what is played abroad. However, this in itself does not guarantee excellent songs – it turned out in the case of the singles “Body” and “No No”. We can call the first a hit, but probably mainly due to its message, which resonated with Czech society. The latter may have sunk an unnecessarily kitschy music video, because in the context of the album, he finally has a song about the art of saying no your meaningful place.
It was the choice of personal, sometimes even intimate, topics that became the key to success at “Umami”. Farna adds a superstructure to her songs, pulling them out of the category of ordinary mass entertainment. Straightforwardly catchy songs like “Abbreviated in Translation” or “Reincarnation” are not so different in essence from the singer’s previous repertoire. However, they managed to bring them into a more attractive form, both in terms of form and content. The first mentioned, with proper dynamics, exaggeration and playfulness, glosses over the slogan and haste of time. The native from Třinec earns respect in her with a smile, when she reminds that “my last name has a short one at the end and”. The second adds a move to the goal of connecting with a younger, urgently singing colleague Sofian Medjmed. However, not every song theme is so supportive. This is illustrated by the piece “I cook from the water”, in which the performer admits: “Sometimes I don’t know which way, I don’t collapse and I cook from water, I can make pluses out of minuses, maybe I won’t give it, at least I’ll try.” The memory of “I Have No Inspiration” by Thom Artway, which conjured up its biggest hit out of such helplessness, comes to mind. In the next, a bit sleepy piece of “Calm”, she is again triggered by petty problems such as too slow a connection or waiting in columns. It’s probably the weakest moment of the collection. Overall, the album’s novelty, named after the fifth taste, which makes all other tastes stand out, seems more convincing in its second half. It deprives depersonalized synthetic materials and more space is given to live instruments as well as the singer’s vocal quality. While the first part often emphasizes hit striking, the second part also shows certain artistic ambitions. There are also various genre influences, including touches of r’n’b, gospel or soul.
“Version 02” brings a clearly protruding melodic motif, Ewa converses with her thirteen-year-old self in a successful text and sings divinely. In “Alone at Home” he takes us to his living room, where he just dances for himself with a glass of prosecco in his hand and is not available by phone. The song is a hit for its moodiness and contagiously rhythmic refrain. “Sad” again appeals to the musician’s stratification – and again to the singer’s mature singing expression. With the final piece “Umama (Roots and Wings)”, which follows the introductory intro, the album culminates in an accompaniment of the choir, but above all with a lot of authentic emotions. The musician sings to her son here and assures him that she will be there for him whenever he needs her. The main advantage of the album “Umami” is that it carries a clear vision. Among the twelve songs we can find weaker items, more important than betting pearl after pearl, this time for the singer was to find and define their new place in the world of pop. And she succeeded – perhaps also thanks to the fact that she participated in all the songs and imprinted on them the topics she really deals with, whether they are absolutely essential for life or even completely banal.
Ewa Farna really doesn’t have to ask anymore: “Did he like me at all?” as he sings in the third single “Version 02”, apparently the flagship of the entire album. Just as a child star once filled an imaginary hole in the market, it is now coming up with something that we currently lack – with an ambitious, at the same time sounding and non-content-minded pop sung by a strong female personality. And even in Czech.
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REVIEW: With the album “Umami”, Ewa Farna took up the banner of Czech women’s pop