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.
This easily takes its place next to Nanna B – Vitaphone and Oaklyn – Chasing the Sun, for my Scandinavian Soul album of the year 2013.
Take a bow Dolla Lova, I’ve fallen for you!
Scandinavian Soul rating: 5 / 5