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Estonian folklore and inventive pop music

“Bring it on” is the new album from the trio Trad.Attack! It is a mixture of Estonian folklore with electronic music, drums, synchronised rhythms, violin, Estonian bagpipes, electric guitar solos and pop-folk. The authors want go beyond all borders but without forgetting their roots.


Jalmar Vabarna, Sandra Vabarna and Tõnu Tubli. (Photo by Renee Altrov.)

Estonia’s power trio: Sandra Vabarna, Jalmar Vabarna and Tõnu Tubli – Trad.Attack! have come together once more for a electro-folk tunes session with the purpose to head into new musical territory.

This is how they produced the album “Bring it on”, using their trusted instruments but also new instrumentation, performing with guest vocalists and musicians who bring new languages to the songs. While the album is mostly performed in dialects from different parts in Estonia, it also features lyrics in English (‘Liugu-laugu’), Yemeni Arabic (’Öelge sõnnu’) and Georgian (’Kiigelaul’). This work has featured performances by nationally and internationally renowned musicians, including Estonian guitarist Laur Joamets, Canadian band The East Pointers, Yemen Blues co-founder and vocalist Ravid Kahalani, and the Georgian male choir Iberi. Also taking part are singers Seto, from south-east Estonia, and bassist Martin Laksberg.

The album opens with the title track, a traditional Estonian song ‘Lase käia’ – ‘Bring It On’ featuring internationally renowned Estonian guitarist Laur Joamets, aka ‘Lil Joe’. Born and raised in Estonia, now based in Nashville, Tennesse, Laur Joamets toured with American country singer-songwriter, musician Sturgill Simpson and performed guitar on Sturgill’s third album ‘A Sailor’s Guide to Earth’ (2016, Atlantic Records) which won Best Country Album at the 59th Grammy™ Awards.

Designed by Martin Rästa.

‘Keera’ is performed in the Seto dialect from Estonia’s south-eastern Seto people and tells  of a maid who dreams of travelling afar while spinning yarn into different patterns, the patterns themselves become part of her journey. ‘Keera’ is a special song for Trad.Attack! as guitarist Jalmar Vabarna was born a Seto and his great-grandmother, Anne Vabarna, was one of the most famous folk singers in Estonia.

The Seto singers on KEERA are: lyricist Maret Vabarna, Jane Vabarna, Anete Vabarna and Evelin Leima which include Jalmar Vabarna’s mother and sister. In 2009, the singing traditions of Seto Leelo were declared a Unesco Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

‘Maka’ is a standout song on “Bring it on”brimming with gentle beats and stylish electric guitar accompanying the  vocals of Sandra Vabarna. It tells the story of a broken-hearted girl who cannot sleep until her lover offers her a ring then her heart stops aching. ‘Liugu-laugu’ – ‘Slide Long’ is a stunning folk song featuring Jalmar Vabarna in Estonian and English vocals performed by The East Pointers’ Timothy Chaisso on fiddle and vocals and Jake Charron on electric guitar and vocals. ‘Liugu-laugu’ is a song sung by the elderly for the young ones to get a good and long life, “Long glide/let go/you’ll be/flying on your own”.

Yemen Blues co-founder Ravid Kahalani is the guest vocalist on the song ‘Öelge sõnnu’ – ‘Say Some Words’ adding Yemeni Arabic to the track which also features Sandra Vabarna accompanied by amazing Estonian backing vocalists. The lyrics tell the story of a singer singing about his skills. The moods of the singer change as they do with creative people.

Photo by Renee Altrov.

The album was co-produced by Trad.Attack! and founder of Clockwork Studios. The production of ‘Kiigelaul’ – “The Swing Song”, performed by Sandra Vabarna and featuring the Georgian polyphonic Iberi choir, combines an Estonian folk song about a swing built over water with a Georgian working men’s song ‘Orovela’.

For five albums in a row now, the ever-changing Trad.Attack! has completely re-imagined a way to experience the ancient music of their ancestors, reshaping their assimilation and claiming the narrative in a contemporary voice. BRING IT ON is bursting with Estonian magic. As Tõnu Tubli says: “We have decided to roam the picturesque but unvisited woods with a clear aim to reach out to the other side. But, along all this way, we will not forget our roots, we remain true to who we are and know what makes us special. The songs on this album remember the start of their journey and bravely look into the unknown.”

Trad. Attack! are touring Estonia nationally in April 2023 and performing at Colours of Ostrava 2023. The trio have received 29 Estonian music awards. For more information click here or visit Trad.Attack!

(Information and photos provided by Angie Lemon)

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