Päivi Hirvonen

© Antti Kokkola

Päivi Hirvonen, the internationally acclaimed Finnish singer, fiddle and bowed lyre player, releases her second solo album Kallio on Friday, 26 August. Hirvonen has been touring the world for years both solo and with the group Okra Playground. Her music is based on the diverse roots of folk music but spices up the mixture with film music and pop influences. Hirvonen’s first solo album Alku – The Beginning (Nordic Notes, 2018) was released to impressive international reviews and got nominated in Finland for the
prestigious Emma Award.
On Kallio Päivi Hirvonen paints a picture of a grown woman’s life with all its highs and lows. Her lyrics address such modern aspects of life as mental health and girls’ rights, but the album also boldly underlines themes like polyamory and childlessness – topics that touch many middle-aged women yet are rarely associated with the roles imposed on them.
“I, or any woman my age, should have the right to exist and live the way we want to – regardless of our years or whether our preferred way of living follows the norms set by the outside world”, says Hirvonen about the themes on the album.
All the songs on the album are written, composed and arranged by Hirvonen. She is also solely responsible for the musical performances on all tracks, except for the album opener, which features additional vocals by Tero Pajunen, Oona Kapari and Pekko Käppi.
Hirvonen is a groundbreaker in simultaneous singing and fiddle playing — a special talent she has been presenting the world through her music for years already. The music on the upcoming album continues to embrace the sound and uniqueness of these two instruments together. The album also features the jouhikko, a bowed instrument from the lyre family with its origins tracing back centuries. As a singer Hirvonen combines a powerful delivery typical of traditional folk music with pop aesthetics.
Kallio turns a new page in Hirvonen’s music, powerfully showcasing her skills as a composer and singer-songwriter. The album is full of musical layers and vocal harmonies.
A new element, programming, offers contrast to the acoustic side. Says Hirvonen: “When starting to work on the album I made the decision to not let myself be limited by how the songs could be performed live. I just wanted to set the music inside me free and tell every story I thought was worth getting heard.”
The recording, mixing and programming on Kallio was done by the rising Finnish artist and producer Oona Kapari who was from the beginning an obvious choice for the album’s production team. The pioneering bowed lyre artist Pekko Käppi, a former band mate of Hirvonen from the group Jouhiorkesteri, also played an important part.
“Having been impressed by her career and wanting to work on the new album with a female sound engineer and producer, I asked Kapari to join in. We especially took time with perfecting the vocal production and she is responsible for the programming. Käppi has provided me with a pair of extra ears and given his valuable insights into making albums and indie music, and using the bowed lyre to its fullest potential”, Hirvonen elaborates.

PÄIVI HIRVONEN: KALLIO

1. KULKIJAT / TRAVELLERS
(fiddle and vocals)
The album opener walks the listener through the land of the northern blues with guest vocals from Tero Pajunen, Oona Kapari and Pekko Käppi.

2. TUULEN TYTTÖ / WIND GIRL
(bowed lyre and vocals)
The song is a story about the power of being a girl and breaking glass ceilings. It is an anthem for every one of us wanting to make things easier for future generations and pays homage to all the precursors who have paved the way for women and girls to follow.

3. KALLIO / ROCK
(fiddle and vocals)
The album’s title song is a ballad for those whose love is not usually sung about. From all the tracks on the album, “Kallio/Rock” has the strongest pop influences combined with a fiddle-driven Scandinavian folk groove.
“Who said you can only love one person I have space in my heart, so I refuse to believe this But hey, luckily with you I don’t need to
Our love is a rock”

4. VARJOT / THE SHADOWS
(fiddle and vocals)
“The Shadows” is about having your mind and the whole essence of you slide into darkness. On top of multi-layered fiddles, songs rising from the shadows create a world of their own.

5. IRTI / LETTING GO
(fiddle)
While having also been recorded in the studio, after some rather colorful events the fiddle melody heard on the song comes from a rehearsal tape on Hirvonen’s phone. This means “Irti/Letting Go” is presented on the album literally the way it was when first composed. The song is a prime example of “polska”-style fiddle playing and celebrates the courage to act differently and let go.

6. VAHVAN VIITTA / CLOAK OF STRENGTH
(fiddle and vocals)
The song combines strong vocal harmonies and the frenzied rhythm of the fiddles with a pulse-like beat. The lyrics deal with the expectations given to us by other people and society. We all get a cloak laid on our shoulders in childhood. When it becomes too heavy to carry, throwing it away frees us and gives us strength to start searching for the life we truly want to lead.

7. SURULINTU / SORROW BIRD
(fiddle and vocals)
In the hardest times nestling under the wings of the sorrow bird helps and comforts us and lets us have a rest. The harmonic texture in the beginning of the song was achieved by picking pizzicato style on three differently tuned violins laid on the floor.

8. TIE / THE ROAD
(bowed lyre and vocals)
What happens when the party is over and truth comes to light? The mystical sound of the bowed lyre provides the base for the song that is taken by the strong vocals and programming to its harrowing end.

9. VANHA JA VAPAA / OLD AND FREE
(octave fiddle and vocals)
The deep sound of the octave fiddle carries away old sorrows. “I’m not young or beautiful or innocent I bear the signs of life in my hands I can now sing: I’m old and free”

Discography

  • Alku - The Beginning

    Alku - The Beginning

    Year of Release: 2019

    Catalogue-Number: NN102

  • Kallio

    Kallio

    Year of Release: 2022

    Catalogue-Number: NN161 / NN161LP

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