VulgarGrad’s Russian-inspired new album ‘The Odessa Job’ takes you on a European voyage

By Scott Hudson

The ability to speak Russian would greatly enhance this experience.

If you want a mixed bag of horns, drums, guitar, piano accordion and contrabass balalaika (guitar with a comically large triangle body), then maybe The Odessa Job is for you. The ability to speak Russian would also greatly enhance the experience.

The vocals throughout the album are spoken with a brash, raspy voice which carries a spectrum of emotion, setting the tone of the songs. Opening track, ‘I Remember’, carries the mood of upbeat Romani-folk with jovial vocals before transitioning into a jazz-influenced instrument break midway. One of the few English-spoken sections enters soon after – a short anecdotal monologue – before we quickly rejoin the Romani-folk energy.

‘Murka’, the album’s two pure instrumental tracks played in both bass and trombone form, create a sombre environment between the high energy and vocally-led songs, audibly painting a picture of melancholy.

VulgarGrad has so much going on musically within the seven-piece, that aside from ‘The Guy She Used To Be with’ – a very vocally driven track – the language barrier is simply the listener’s transparent wall to see beyond. Through The Odessa Job, VulgarGrad produce a great mix of Romani-folk, jazz and funk with a lot of character.