Released just in time to make the Best Albums of 2020 lists, the Albanian-Swiss singer Elina Duni
and the British guitarist Rob Luft
's Lost Ships
is an exquisitely beautiful, emotionally complex, words and music masterpiece from two of the most distinctive talents on the European scene. Passionate and grave, serene and desolate, it is a kind of sequel to Duni's acclaimed 2018 ECM debut, Partir
explored the humanitarian crisis which was then (as now) sweeping across Europe as refugees from Africa and the Middle East journeyed northwards in search of better lives. Lost Ships
, another collection of songs about love and exilethis time half of them originals, co-written by Duni and Luftreturns to that theme, also weaving environmental concerns into the mix. The title refers to the unconscionable number of little boats which sink as they sail across the Mediterranean and the English Channel carrying refugees, and the unknown number of lives that consequently have been (and continue to be) lost.
The album is composed of six originals, four traditional songs from Albania, Italy and the US, and two covers, Charles Aznavour's "Hier Encore" ("Only Yesterday") and Frank Sinatra, Jack Wolf and Joel Herron's "I'm A Fool To Want You." True to the pro-world citizen, anti-nationalist orientation of Lost Ships
, Duni sings in four languagesEnglish, Albanian, French and Italianand translations of the non-English lyrics are given in the CD booklet. The duo are joined by the Swiss flugelhornist Matthieu Michel
and the British multi-instrumentalist Fred Thomas
on piano and drums. (For more background check out this interview
Duni and Luft gave AAJ in November 2020).
In their liner note, Duni and Luft observe that, despite the gravity that is found in much of the material, there is a lightness that pervades throughout. They conclude with a line from "Lux," one of their originals: "In every tear, there is a light that shows." And so it does. Luft has already notched up one of the great albums of 2020 with his sophomore own-name disc Life Is The Dancer
(Edition). Here is another. A perfect vehicle with which to transition into, hopefully, a better new year.
Bella C Dormi; Brighton; I’m A Fool To Want You; Numb; Lost Ships; The Wayfaring Stranger; Flying Kites; Lux; Kur Me Del Ne Dere; N’at Zaman; Empty Street; Hier Encore.
Elina Duni: voice;
Rob Luft: guitar, electronics;
Fred Thomas: piano, drums;
Matthieu Michel: flugelhorn.