FolkWorld #81 11/2023
© Angie Lemon PR

ELLA is a song to call shepherds home from pasture. Night is falling, mom and dad wait for their kids to come home. Lead vocalist Jalmar Vabarna.

A Thunderous Mix to Broaden Horizons

Trad.Attack! transform Estonian folklore with pop genius on new album - BRING IT ON. Featuring Laur Joamets, Seto singers, The East Pointers, Ravid Kahalani (Yemen Blues), Martin Laksberg, Iberi Choir.

BRING IT ON is the exciting new album from Trad.Attack!, featuring a thunderous mix of Estonian folklore with electronica, drums, programmed beats, fiddle, the Estonian bagpipe, soaring electric guitar solos and pumping pop-folk. BRING IT ON is equally blessed with sensitively-produced folk songs, perfect layered harmonies sprinkled with atmospheric brass instrumentation and dulcet vocals.


Artist Video Trad.Attack! @ FROG

Estonia’s power trio: Sandra Vabarna, Jalmar Vabarna and Tõnu Tubli - Trad.Attack! have come together once more for a electro-folk serving of tunes on BRING IT ON with a stated purpose to head into new musical territory. Trad.Attack! have produced the album using their trusted instruments but also new instrumentation, performing with guest vocalists and musicians who bring new languages to the songs. While the album is mostly performed in dialects from different parts in Estonia, BRING IT ON also features lyrics in English (‘Liugu-laugu’), Yemeni Arabic (’Öelge sõnnu’) and Georgian (’Kiigelaul’).

Trad.Attack! chose to collaborate with both national and internationally acclaimed musicians for the album. BRING IT ON includes guest performances from Estonian guitar legend Laur Joamets, Canada’s internationally acclaimed The East Pointers, Yemen Blues co-founder and vocalist, Ravid Kahalani and the Georgian male choir, Iberi. BRING IT ON also features Seto singers from southeast Estonia and respected bassist, Martin Laksberg. As guitarist Jalmar Vabarna says, “This album has set us off on a new journey to broaden our horizons. We try out new instruments and search for new sounds. Our paths have crossed with those of many other musicians, from the worlds we know and from the unfamiliar ones.”

The album opens with the bold and brilliant title track, a traditional Estonian song ‘Lase käia’ - ‘Bring It On’ featuring internationally renowned Estonian guitarist Laur Joamets, aka ‘Lil Joe’. Born and raised in Estonia, now based in Nashville, Tennesse, Laur Joamets toured with American country singer-songwriter, musician Sturgill Simpson and performed guitar on Sturgill’s third album ‘A Sailor's Guide to Earth’ (2016, Atlantic Records) which won Best Country Album at the 59th Grammy™ Awards.

‘Keera’ is performed in the Seto dialect from Estonia’s south-eastern Seto people and tells of a maid who dreams of travelling afar while spinning yarn into different patterns, the patterns themselves become part of her journey. ‘Keera’ is a particularly special song for Trad.Attack! as guitarist Jalmar Vabarna was born a Seto and his great-grandmother, Anne Vabarna, was one of the most famous folk singers in Estonia. The Seto singers on KEERA are: lyricist Maret Vabarna, Jane Vabarna, Anete Vabarna and Evelin Leima which include Jalmar Vabarna’s mother and sister. In 2009, the singing traditions of Seto Leelo were declared a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.


Trad.Attack! are:

SANDRA VABARNA Estonian bagpipes, Jew's harp, whistles, vocal

JALMAR VABARNA 12-string guitar, electric guitar, 6-string acoustic guitar, piano, synths, vocal

TÕNU TUBLI Drums, percussion, brass instruments, glockenspiel, synths, vocal

Track Listing BRING IT ON :

1. Lase Käia (Bring It On) feat. Laur Joamets (Electric guitar)
2. Keera (Spin It) feat. Seto singers (Maret Vabarna, Jane Vabarna, Anete Vabarna, Evelin Leima)
3. Pidu Lõppeb (The Party Is Ending)
4. Maka (Sleep) 4:43
5. Ann Läts Aita (Ann Went To The Barn) feat. archival recording from the Estonian Folklore Archives of the Estonian Literary Museum
6. Liugu-Laugu (Slide Long) feat. The East Pointers (Timothy Andrew Kevin Chaisson, Jacob Claude Charron)
7. Öelge Sõnnu (Say Some Words) feat. Ravid Kahalani (Vocals)
8. Ella 2:27
9. Tere (Hello) feat. Martin Laksberg (Bass)
10. Kiigelaul (The Swing Song) feat. Iberi (Bidzina Murgulia, Luka Chigvinadze, Tornike Dzadzamia, Aleksandre Birkaia, Nikolozi Birkaia, Giorgi Janashia, David Kavtaradze)
11. Püksata Magama (Going To Bed Without Trousers)

Artist Audio Trad.Attack! "Bring It On", Trad.Attack! Music, 2023


‘Maka’ is a standout song on BRING IT ON brimming with gentle beats and stylish electric guitar accompanying the arresting and magical vocals of Sandra Vabarna. It tells the story of a broken-hearted girl who cannot sleep until her lover offers her a ring then her heart stops aching.

‘Liugu-laugu’ – ‘Slide Long’ is a stunning folk song featuring Jalmar Vabarna in Estonian and English vocals beautifully performed by The East Pointers’ Timothy Chaisso on fiddle and vocals and Jake Charron on electric guitar and vocals. ‘Liugu-laugu’ is a song sung by the elderly for the young ones to get a long glide with the sledge - a good and long life, ‘Long Glide/Let Go/You’ll Be/Flying On Your Own’.

Yemen Blues co-founder Ravid Kahalani is the guest vocalist on the song ‘Öelge sõnnu’ - ‘Say Some Words’ adding Yemeni Arabic to the track which also features Sandra Vabarna accompanied by amazing Estonian backing vocalists. The lyrics tell the story of a singer singing about his skills. The moods of the singer change as they do with creative people. First, the singer invites others to compete with him, then starts hesitating that maybe they really have more lyrics than he does. After a while, the singer feels unrestrained, passionate and untamed, nothing can hold him back.

BRING IT ON was co-produced by Trad.Attack! and founder of Clockwork Studios, Silver Lepaste with Trad.Attack!. The production of ‘Kiigelaul’ – ‘The Swing Song’ performed by Sandra Vabarna and featuring the Georgian polyphonic Iberi choir, is a breathtaking achievement. Sung in southern Estonian dialect by Sandra Vabarna, ‘Kiigelaul’ combines an Estonian folk song about a swing built over water with a Georgian working men’s song ‘Orovela’.

For five albums in a row now, the ever-changing Trad.Attack! has completely re-imagined a way to experience the ancient music of their ancestors, reshaping their assimilation and claiming the narrative in a contemporary voice. BRING IT ON is bursting with Estonian magic. As Tõnu Tubli says, “We have decided to roam the picturesque but unvisited woods with a clear aim to reach out to the other side. But, along all this way, we will not forget our roots, we remain true to who we are and know what makes us special. The songs on this album remember the start of their journey and bravely look into the unknown.”

Laur Joamets

East Pointers East Pointers

Ravid Kahalani (Yemen Blues)

Biography TRAD.ATTACK!

Becoming better requires courage to change. Trad.Attack! are experts in traditional folk re-invention. As their name suggests their approach to their songcraft is with great vigour, power and passion. Taking traditional music and long vanished village voices from Estonian towns and villages, Trad.Attack! have become the influencer in their home country and perform their big sound all around the world which inspires both the young and older generations alike.


Sandra Vabarna Sandra, Jalmar and Tõnu have been good friends for a long time and have been active on the Estonian music scene for more than fifteen years. Surrounded by traditional music all her life, Sandra Vabarna first picked up the Estonian bagpipe when she was thirteen. She popularizes folk music by being role model as a female bagpiper and band leader.

Jalmar Vabarna Jalmar is a Seto: a member of a small ethnic community in south-eastern Estonia. Setos have their own kingdom and king and a distinctive culture, which is particularly well known for its traditional singing (Leelo). Jalmar’s great-grandmother, Anne Vabarna, was one of the most famous folk singers in Estonia. Jalmar's mother and sister kept family singing tradition, so he has grown up in this tradition as well. Tõnu Tubli As his father was a conductor of a brass orchestra, Tõnu was playing brass before he could walk. He took up classical trombone and drums, and is now one of the most in-demand drummers in Estonia.

In 2013 they decided to play together just for fun and to do something different with folk music. At the first rehearsal they decided not to set borders, to keep it fresh and surprise themselves, with no ambition to perform it in public. It was a great surprise when after the band released their first tune “Kooreke” it became a hit. When they applied to play at Tallinn Music Week 2014 they didn’t even have a name; they only had five tunes, but it was just enough for the short showcase. After massive positive feedback from the audience and critics they decided to take things more seriously. It seemed that the fresh, free approach and friendship between the members creates a special synergy which audiences and the musicians themselves always embrace and enjoy.

TRAD.ATTACK! was born!

TRAD.ATTACK! draws its inspiration from archive recordings of the great Estonian folk singers and instrumentalists who created and performed music for work, leisure and festivities in the old times. Trad.Attack! takes it from there and brings their voices and their music to 21st century: sometimes starting with scratchy recordings of long vanished village voices – and building pulsating rhythmic structures, creating an impressively big sound from acoustic 12- string guitar, drums, an array of whistles, bagpipes and jew’s harps. Folk music is definitely their starting point, but not their boundary. They are young modern people: maintaining their traditional roots in ears, mind and soul, TRAD.ATTACK! experiments with different styles and musical directions.

At their first concert the band made a joke about having a master plan to play in every country in the world. Surprisingly this audacious master plan has now been activated – within the nine years since coming together, Trad.Attack! has reached every continent and performed in 38 countries at significant festivals such as the Woodford Folk Festival (Australia), Womad (UK, Chile), Rudolstadt Festival (Germany), Rainforest World Music Festival (Malaysia), Vancouver Folk Festival (Canada) and many significant showcase festivals (Womex, Folk Alliance International, Mundial Montreal). In summer 2023 the band will perform at one of the biggest music festivals in Europe – Colours of Ostrava. Now there are only 158 countries still to experience the power of Trad.Attack!.

LASE KÄIA (Bring It On) is an Estonian lullaby that takes you on a voyage across the sea. The song is a traditional lullaby about a village woman with a stick and a bag who is swaying a cradle over the woods and across the sea. Lead vocals by Sandra Vabarna and Jalmar Vabarna. Featured Musician: Star guitarist, Laur Joamets aka ‘Lil Joe’ was born and raised in Estonia. Now based in Nashville, Tennesse, Laur Joamets is an international star guitarist who toured with Sturgill Simpson and performed guitar on Sturgill’s third album ‘A Sailor's Guide to Earth’ (2016, Atlantic Records) which won Best Country Album at the 59th Grammy™ Awards.

TERE (Hello), feat. Martin Laksberg, is a pub-going song. You can party in the pub, drink beer and vodka and sing on the table. Lead vocalist Jalmar Vabarna.

PIDU LÕPPEB (The Party Is Ending) is an old party song – an old flatfoot waltz song to dance to where party goers sing about making music, about dance, frolicking wedding spirits and eventually about the end of the party and everyday life. Lead vocals by Jalmar Vabarna.

Photo Credits: (1)-(2) Trad.Attack!, (3) Laur Joamets, (4)-(5) Tim Chaisson & Jake Charron (The East Pointers), (6) Ravid Kahalani (Yemen Blues) (unknown/website); (7)-(8) Trad.Attack! @ Tønder Festival 2017 (by Walkin' Tom).

FolkWorld Homepage English Content German Content Editorial & Commentary News & Gossip Letters to the Editors CD & DVD Reviews Book Reviews Folk for Kidz Folk & Roots Online Guide - Archives & External Links Search FolkWorld Info & Contact

FolkWorld - Home of European Music
FolkWorld Homepage
Layout & Idea of FolkWorld © The Mollis - Editors of FolkWorld