Saturday, June 22, 2024

Marjana Semkina Sings Songs Of A Sirin

If you’re familiar with the concept of the Sirin, you’ll immediately have some kind of hint about what’s coming. The Sirin is a mythical creature from Slavic mythology, half bird, half woman. She’s a harbinger of bad luck and death, and it’s believed that a big catastrophe will occur if you meet a Sirin. It’s also said that the Sirin ‘mourns and weeps for humanity’ and Russian singer Marjana Semkina, now happily resident in the UK, is using this concept to portray her own feelings about the actions of her Government in attempting to subjugate Ukraine, and it’s true to say her attempts to raise money to donate to Ukrainian victims of the war could see her imprisoned for anything up to fifteen years should she return to Russia… but as she says, “It’s impossible, almost unforgivable, to stay silent and do nothing.” 

This is an album with its roots in the emotional turmoil of what’s happening with her homeland and what she and her musical partner Kleb Kolyakin, have had to experience over the past few years, but whilst the lyrical content on Sirin is occasionally melancholic, the often uplifting music ensures the album never lapses into full-on despair.

From the opening notes of ‘We Are The Ocean’, a song dedicated to all the Russians who bravely stood up and protested the invasion of Ukraine, it’s clear Marjana’s voice is the focus. She has a fragile, delicate voice with, at times, an almost breathless delivery, but she certainly draws the listener in with its beauty, which is occasionally deep and dark in places, while almost ethereal in others, and compares very favourable to artists like Chrissy Mostyn (Blackheart Orchestra) and also Kate Bush.

No superstar friends are helping on Sirin, there is no Nick Beggs, no Jordan Rudess, etc, but the ones she’s chosen to assist her do sterling work. Antimatter’s Mick Moss harmonises beautifully with Marjana on ‘Death And The Maiden’, while Jim Grey from prog rockers Caligula’s Horse repeats the process on the gorgeously melancholic ‘Anything But Sleep’.

The entire album is lined with sumptuous melodies and lush musical arrangements, plus some quite beautiful songs, with the gorgeous ‘Swan Song’ and the beautifully atmospheric ‘This Silence This Dreaming’ a fitting way to end what is a pearl of an album. Marjana had to employ crowdfunding to finance the recording of Sirin, but what she’s produced has more than rewarded the faith her fans have shown in her.

Laurence Todd
Laurence Todd
Took early retirement after many years as a teacher in order to write books as well as about music. A long-time music obsessive, has wide and eclectic tastes but particularly likes prog rock and rock in general. Enjoys going to gigs and discovering new acts.

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If you’re familiar with the concept of the Sirin, you’ll immediately have some kind of hint about what’s coming. The Sirin is a mythical creature from Slavic mythology, half bird, half woman. She’s a harbinger of bad luck and death, and it’s believed that...Marjana Semkina Sings Songs Of A Sirin