Warsaw Village Band
People’s Spring (World Village 468028, 2003)
I was just a kid back in the early ’70s, but I vividly remember that at the time, for whatever reason, downright nasty jokes about Polish people and Polish culture were all the rage. I didn’t understand then and I don’t understand now why anyone thought Poles were deserving of such derision. They’ve survived
barbaric military invasions, poisoned communist ideology and a whole lot more, so why the ridicule? Beats me.
I bring all that up because maybe it has something to do with how freshly in-your-face the music of the Warsaw Village Band sounds. After all, there are songs here that lash out against superficiality, encourage defiance and shed light on how ridiculous love relationships can become. And they’re done with an edgy mixture of stringed instruments, thundering percussion, cavernous production values and singing based on the communicative way Polish shepherds once shouted across vast expanses.
The band members are a young bunch who’ve taken Poland’s folk roots and convincingly re-cast them in the modern age. So while the songs stomp and groove, a sense of reserve and respect is not lost. It took years of dedication to spearhead the second coming of Polish folk music in recent times, and this
group seems hell-bent on showing how vibrant it is, was and always will be.
Taking a partial cue from the renewed vigor of folk music in various countries, Warsaw Village Band keep the spirit intact (a Polish co-worker of mine marveled at how soulfully the traditional songs on the disc are delivered), but put their own stamp on this inventive and just plain cool sampling of what they’ve dubbed “hardcore folk.” It’s not so much fusion music as a particular style taken to the brink, and therein lies its strength.