Normally, I would save my applause for things I enjoy until the end but Finnish band Dolla Lova definitely deserve a show of appreciation, and I’m happy to give it to them early. It wasn’t long into listening to the track ‘Millionaire’, which sadly isn’t on their album, that I realised this band was more than good, and in fact, far, far better than average.
The response from listeners after ‘Millionaire’s‘ first airplay on my radio show immediately told me I would be far from alone in admiring this group.
From Helsinki, Finland, Dolla Lova is a three-piece trio consisting of Heini Ikonen on vocals, Eliel Viitala on drums and Tatu Santaniemi on bass. Together they combine elements from different shades of soul, such as hip-hop and golden sprinkles of Mary J. Blige, and transform them into a sound they like to call “soulhop”.
So, could the album Fall for You, which was released in May 2013 be anywhere near as good as the track ‘Millionaire’?
I won’t review every track but here’s an overview:
After a cinematic intro we are warmed into Dolla Lova with ‘Gotta Have‘ – which is an excellent first track, followed by ‘Hopeless Dreamer’. Both really enjoyable and soulful, you are immediately aware of the how engaging this band is.
’Be Mine’ – Just seconds in and the bass kicks in with strings samples and the excellent vocal talents of Heini Ikonen grab you! I really like Heini’s vocals, Go Girl! I really love the lyrics and the sample in this song.
Next is the delicate track ‘If You Knew’ followed by … more goodness! ‘Made me’ features strong lyrics, sung from the heart. Emotional and soulful, this is a real favourite of mine with Heini sounding like a soul sister who seriously can’t take it anymore and tells it like it is! In your face!
More quality follows with ‘Flying High’ a soulful, bassy sound with a jazzy piano which is followed by the simply lovely ‘Smallest Thing’.
One of Dolla Lovas’ strongest points is their songwriting, combined with beautiful harmonies, and a perfect example is ‘Lost My Way’. Big, bold and beautiful with emphatic gospel voices filling the chorus while Heini pours her Scandinavian soul out like a flood.
‘Fall for You’, the album’s title track, uses another excellent string sample that I adore. (It reminds me of a sample Dimitri from Paris used on ‘Epilogue’ from the album Sacrebleu.) The track travels along beautifully. On my version purchased from iTunes (support the artists!), ‘Fall for You’ has a long pause before it continues into a brilliant bonus track.
Without doubt, this is a superb debut album. There aren’t many soul artists or bands in Scandinavia who produce a complete album that’s so well balanced, doesn’t suddenly throw in you different creative directions, and just delivers track after track of quality music like this one.
Take a bow Dolla Lova, I’ve fallen for you!
Scandinavian Soul rating: 5 / 5