Sofia Rubina - I Am Soul

With a populace of roughly 1.3 million, Estonia is a diminutive nation in Northern Europe, bordering the Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Finland. Despite its own rich cultural heritage, it has welcomed musicians and artists globally. The nation hosts various music and arts festivals, including Jaakaar, the premier jazz festival in the Baltics.

Estonian jazz traces back to 1918 when a dance band formed in Tallinn by schoolboys eager to play contemporary tunes. The swing trend surged in the late 1930s, culminating in the first jazz concert in 1936. Today, Estonia boasts numerous top-tier jazz musicians like vocalist Sofia Rubina, who recently released her sixth album, "I Am Soul." This album showcases Rubina's commanding and expressive vocal range, blending jazz and soul seamlessly. Anne Erm, music critic and artistic director of Jazzkaar festival, describes Rubina as a stylish jazz vocalist, passionate soul singer, and versatile performer.

The album, featuring eleven tracks including covers of artists like Bonnie Raitt and George Duke, embodies Rubina's modern jazz and soul fusion. Collaborating with Evgeny Lebedev, an accomplished pianist, adds depth to the sound. Alongside Rubina are Anton Revnyuk on bass and Ignat Kravtsov on drums. Rubina's journey through expressive soul reflects her upbringing in Tartu, Southern Estonia, where her family nurtured her musical talents.

Rubina, a recipient of numerous accolades, delivers authenticity in her music, drawing inspiration from personal experiences. International performances in prestigious venues worldwide have solidified her reputation. "I Am Soul" is a testament to Rubina's authenticity and musical creativity, which certainly resonates with me on a profound level.

Rubina's originals, like "Home" and "Taim," convey personal and universal themes, while covers such as Bonnie Raitt’s "I Can't Make You Love Me" exhibit her versatile style. Her ability to infuse various musical genres with her unique flair makes her a standout artist in today's music landscape.

In addition to the expressive vocal work of Rubina, what I simply love about this album is the variety of styles and Rubina’s modern approach to jazz. There is a smooth and pop element while also permeating elements of blues, gospel, fusion, R&B, among other textures. This is an album that distinctly conveys the joy of living.

Released December 8, 2023.


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