Album Review of
Love Hurts

Written by Joe Ross
October 5, 2022 - 12:15pm EDT
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Following their award-winning releases of Pappilan hääyö in 2016, and We Are ENKEL in 2018, Love Hurts is the third studio album from the Finnish female folk quartet comprised of Leija Lautamaja (melodeon), Miia Palomäki  (melodeon), Maija Pokela (kantele) and Iida Savolainen (viola).  ENKEL, whose slogan is “traditional girl power from Finland,” also sing and even have alter-egos with super-hero powers. The four personable and charismatic women share a great passion for presenting traditional music in an impactful, joyous, exuberant way.  Taking their time to pick and arrange the tunes with love and attention, ENKEL’s Love Hurts yields bountiful rewards full of rhythmic intensity, propulsive energy and contemporary sensibility that make folk music relevant in this century.   

​​With profoundly earthy with warm-hearted sentiments, ENKEL’s alluring music establishes an exciting groove. Besides aspects of Finnish culture, landscapes, stories, moods and wisdom, we simply hear tunes that capture happiness and joy of life and love itself. The band’s working motto is “Tradition Forever!” yet the ladies pick out interesting areas of Finnish folklore and give them new life with the distinctive Enkel vibe. Whether playing a toe-tapping medley of “Kantelepolkat” (Kantele Polkas) or singing an emotionally-charged, nostalgic original “Kilon Päivät” (The Days of Kilo) about childhood friendship in one of the most beautiful parts of Finland, ENKEL’s music is consistently a warm, affable mix. I especially enjoyed their spirited instrumentals like “Etkot Sussulla” (The Preparty) and Kipiä Polska (Love Hurts), but their sensuous singing on tracks like “Portti” (The Gate) and “Irti Maasta” (Joy) was also very pleasurable to the ears.

Written by Iida, “Lupa Elää” (Let There Be Life) is a nice jaunt that demonstrates the viola’s mastery of her instrument, just as “Twin Flame,” written by Leija, uses the melodeon to primarily create its melancholic mood. Songs like “Pelimannin Kaikuja” (Echoes of the Fiddler) and “Joenlaskua” (County Me A River) might seem to initially appeal to an older demographic, but it’s clear that interpretive twists incorporated into the arrangements will also allow ENKEL to build a legion of young fans interested in traditional music and, in the vein of The Spice Girls, young girls searching for role models.

Since their debut in 2013, ENKEL have been performing actively in the Nordic countries and in 2016, the quartet represented Finland at the EBU Euro Radio Festival, that year in conjunction with Viljandi Pärimusmuusika Festival in Estonia. Now, the fall of 2022 finds ENKEL touring Germany before their official album release party on in November at Hietsun Paviljonki in Helsinki. It should be quite a show. (Joe Ross, Roots Music Report)