Wouldn’t you know it? I have two turntables up and rarin’ to go: the LSA T3 turntable and unipivot tonearm with a Soundsmith The Voice cartridge, and the Gem Dandy Polytable Signature with Sorane TA1-L 12″ tonearm and the brand new ZYX Ultimate Airy cartridge. I told myself that these were good days to be reviewing LPs, quiet wintry days following the holidays, but there was just one LP in the infamous review pile. Just one. Let the World Be a Question from Monika Lidke (website).
That means one thing–I played this LP from Monika Lidke over and over while setting these turntables up and dialing everything in. On one level, that implies that I really enjoyed it. Would I listen to it over and over if I couldn’t stand it? But I stuck with this LP for days because there was more to it sonically, an introspective richness that drew me in each time I played it.
Ostensibly a jazz singer, Monika Lidke’s deeply personal songs combine jazz with pop, folk and even country nuances. After a while it just becomes lovely music, similar to some of the work Anne Bisson’s been doing over the last few years. After the first few songs, I didn’t even think “jazz.” But it does sneak in, those nebulous jazz structures, especially with her varied and complex accompaniment.
Monika Lidke is from Poland, and the songs on Let the World… are sung in both Polish and English. Her English is remarkably clear and precise, making her sound a little bit like the Eastern European equivalent of Laurie Anderson. The nearly equal time spent in her mother tongue brings out those folk traditions, which become a very tasty dusting of powdered sugar over the direct and sometimes intense energy that flows underneath her songs. But this album’s gift is that it checks all the boxes for audiophile female voice recordings while appealing to the edgier crowd who just wants to hear something original and intriguing.
On the first listen, I had this sense of being pulled in closer to the music. It was so tangible that I felt compelled to take a few steps back from Monika Lidke. After each listen, I noticed something new, something buried deep inside this haunting music. Ms. Lidke turned out to be an excellent companion during this complicated analog set-up, and I’ll always be grateful.