Ljubojna: Ljubojna in Life (2011)
As a band Ljubojna is a sum of many parts. While folk music is a prominent ingredient in its music, so, too, are jazz, pop, hip-hop, jungle and other forms; for this septet, the folk background is merely just another aspect of its musical Esperanto. All of the musos are more than able, prolific and have a more than solid background in playing jazz, avant and dance music. It is obvious that Ljubojna was not designed with purists in mind but for those with eclectic tastes.
While love and war may be at the core (the name is a coined word from these two words) suggesting struggle when making music, Ljubojna's music flows like a river. Following the success of its third album, based on Macedonian Petre M. Andreevski's poetry, this live document was recorded at a special, one-off promotional concert held on April 10, 2010 to promote Pesna za mojata pesna (Song about my song) (Bajro Zakon Korporejshn, 2009).
Ljubojna in Life is the band's first proper live recording (as the second album, Macedonia Fresh (Bajro Zakon Korporejshn, 2007) was also recorded live), and it's a beauty. There are many ingredients that make this live document special. It combines exhilaration, refreshing authenticity, good swinging musicianship and an aura of charm. From song to song, it brims with a kind of motion that suggests this septet is not only well rehearsed but is thoroughly at home with the material. Soundman Bojan Ugrinovski does an exemplary job of capturing the action on an emotionally charged night, where spontaneous invention was the rule rather than the exception.
On the set list are compositions originally heard on Pesna za mojata pesna and a few other folk tunes, such as "Tvoite oci Leno," "Krena Martinata" "Chupi Kosturcanki." While the last studio record clearly fuses many distinct elements into what defines the group's sound identity, and has fine compositions, production-wise it subdued the band's electricity and playfulness, making it a hard listen. In a live setting everything comes into the right place with the right balance.
But no matter how good they are, or how good they sound, it is obvious that lead vocalist Vera Milosevska is what makes this band sound even better. Her exquisite voice has a wide and sublime vocal range, blessed with a rich emotional and expressive tonality that makes the band sound much better. Driven by excitement, she is in front, behind or carrying the band, the driving engine that moves the music. Vera can easily transcend emotions with deeper and subtler flavors, and her distinctive voice effortlessly translates the essence of each song's sentiments.
When it comes to live recordings they usually serve as go-to concert recordings, and this one serves both as an aural snapshot of a special event and a go-to concert recording. Although this is an aural document with an invitation, it clearly shows that, as a band, Ljubojna is blossoming into one of the more interesting groups of its generation.
Track Listing: Pesna za mojata Pesna; Kaj me Sretna..; Apsana me Klade; Pesna za mojata Pesna (reprise); Sheherezad Marsh; Mertva Sabota; Chupi Kosturchanki; Leno Gajlelija; Tvoite ochi Leno; Krena Martinata; Ti Rekov, Mi Rece.
Personnel: Vera Miloshevska: vocal; Oliver Josifovski: double-bass; Bojan Petkov-Shamba: guitar; Blagojce Trajkovski: clarinet; Najdo Shakirov: drums; Damir Shakirov: darbuka; DJ. Yordan: turntables
Record Label: Self Produced