The forthcoming Orthodox Christmas Eve – January the 6th – will see the digital release of Daria Kulesh’s new EP entitled EVE.
Celebrated in both Russia and Ukraine, Christmas Eve, also known as Sochelnik, is a pagan – rooted mystical night not unlike All Hallows’ Eve when magic spells – and curses – are believed to b e at their most potent. It is the night of women, engaging in strange and dangerous rituals to reveal their future and perhaps even bend and shape their fate. The EP is the cry of a woman, a mother, echoing Eve herself – the mother of us all who remembers a world free from violence. EVE cries out … STOP THE WAR!
The centrepiece of the EP is Lully Lullay – a dark lullaby, a contemporary reworking of the haunting Coventry Carol . An irresistible, if bleak, melody, in stark contrast to the jolly festive fare, it refers to King Herod’s Massacre of the Innocents. Initially, Daria’s theme was the rollercoaster of motherhood, the senseless suffering of baby loss: “not some mad king in his raging / just random chance to blame” and a mother’s all – consuming need to preserve her child. Written in A&E around Christmas 2020 when Daria’s baby daughter Erica became dangerously ill (she has since made
a full recovery), full of fear, anxiety and overwhelming love, it’s a ‘spell song’ of protection. Who would have thought that in 2022, the horrific war in Ukraine would add an even more poignant edge to the song as mothers are robbed of their children in both Ukraine and Daria’s home country, Russia.
Other songs are accompanying the main single to amplify its anti – war sentiment. Masters of War by Bob Dylan was an obvious choice . In a way, it is also a ‘spell song’, a mother’s curse upon warmongers born out of a visceral need to resist: “For threatening my baby / Unborn and unnamed / You ain’t worth the blood / That runs in your vein s”.
A gentle Ukrainian Lullaby paints an idyllic picture of a sleepy village where two kindly spirits – Dream and Slumber – are looking for a place to spend the night,eventually choosing a cosy hut with a purring cat and a sleeping baby. This simple image of safety and peace is something that has been brutally ripped apart by war. In contrast, the EP’s opener – Cossack Lullaby – was originally written in Russian by Mikhail Lermontov. Cossack culture is something Russia and Ukraine share; Ukraine’s national anthem itself celebrates the nation’s Cossack heritage. Lermontov’s lullaby shows a mother admiring her sleeping baby boy in his cradle, imagining the strong and brave Cossack he’d grow up to be. He would seek his glory
in battle, and she will pine away, abandoned, sick with worry, wishing only for her boy to come home safe. No mother wants her child to go to war.
Alongside Jason Emberton lending his varied multi – instrumental talents (drums, bass, piano, keyboards, sy nth, strings ) and outstanding production skills to the songs, the release features the stellar line – up of Stu Hanna ( violin – Cossack Lullaby ), Tristan Seume (guitar – Cossack Lullaby), Katrina Davies (violin – Lully Lullay), Jonny Dyer (guitar – Masters of War), Odette Michell (backing vocals – Lully Lullay), and Daria herself on guitar and shruti box.