Haymanot Tesfa – Loosening the Strings album review
Haymanot Tesfa is a singer and krar (traditional lyre) player from Ethiopia, now living in the UK.
Loosening the Strings is her solo debut album. A collection of Ethiopian traditional songs and her own arrangements all sung in the distinctive Amharic language.
Throughout the album, Haymanot’s fingers flow through the six-stringed krar with nimble dexterity. The unfaltering plucked soft tones provide a foundation for Haymanot’s powerful and captivating voice that can shift from sounding like a spring songbird to a fiery chant.
Her haunting lines on Shega are truly spellbinding and Kal demonstrates the full capability of Haymonot’s extraordinary voice as she sings solo without the krar.
Occasionally, when sustaining her notes they take on an Arabic flavour, as do the songs with the tombak (Persian goblet drum) played by Arian Sadr on half of the album. The soft harmonic tones of the drum patterns are not overpowering and work really well.
The album concludes with Eshururu, a gentle tranquil lullaby.
I was fortunate enough to hear these songs earlier this year at her album preview at the V&A Museum in the grandeur of the tapestry rooms. In the dimly lit intimate setting, the performance had an aura of mystique and it was impossible not to be enchanted by Haymanot.
The ambience of that performance is reflected on the album, and using only the krar and a drum it’s a bold debut. Yet, it doesn’t need anything else, as it’s simply beautiful.