When it comes to trying to pigeon hole the voice, the songs, and even the heritage of Olenka Krakus, people fall over themselves trying to find the perfect comparison. Sure there are touch points that draw this behavior out of almost anyone that hears her songs or her story and these comforts give the record a familiarity that lets the band experiment with textures and styles without losing the listener, but when you sit and listen to And Now We Sing, trying to equate Olenka and her talented band to what other people are doing is a huge disservice to the creative sounds the London outfit is pulling together.
With a deft touch, Krakus jumps from Eastern European folk, rich in strings and tradition to surprisingly powerful, almost post-rock moments (“No Coins”), touches on ten-gallon hat style country (“East End” – I mean, how great is that guitar solo?), and pure folk, but never looses the connection she makes with the listener. In an era where few people care about crafting records, And Now We Sing is sequenced perfectly, and fuses moments of genuine levity alongside the hints of remorse or melancholy. She follows her most experimental moments with some of her most tender, letting the listener take a relaxing breath (the gentle swoon of “Lark”, a track that feels as intimate as a late night conversation) to refocuses the record before exploding into surging numbers like “Sparrow” and “Shame.”
Olenka is still a folk artist (“Mama’s Bag” is a classic in the making) and stripped from any of the musical support her band provides her stories are heavy and deserve your attention, but they are willing (and more than able) to craft beautiful, powerful anthems from those most inauspicious roots. “Louise of Littleville” starts with picks and pleasing strings, but over the course of the almost 6-minute journey O&TAL offer triumphant horns, sing-along harmonies and a well executed build that indie rock bands hoping to sound like Arcade or Fire would kill for. The same can be said how “Go” naturally grows from an synth/acoustic ballad into a string laden hook and then into a fully developed rock song.
Looking at the complete, 14-song affair it’s tough to point out the best moments and even harder to find a note out of place, but one thing is for certain; Olenka is making a name for herself, one that deserves to stand alongside her peers not simply be compared casually to some of their best moments.