Alkinoos Ioannidis ‘Local stranger’ (Wrasse) 4/5

In Greek popular music the boundaries between folk and pop/rock music are more blurred than elsewhere in Europe and this can result in some interesting fusions that chart nationally whereas in other countries folk music would tend on the whole to be relegated to the margins. Young Greek-Cypriot singer-songwriter and guitarist Alkinoos Ioannidis typifies the open-minded approach to music in the country and this compilation of his albums spanning the period 1997-2009 is an example of the cross-hopping of genres that is quite commonplace. If the balance is not always in favour of folk elements and at worst ends up being a mish-mash of folk-rock as on ‘With so many lies’, this is thankfully the exception rather than the rule here. At best, however, the acoustic guitar and other instrumentation of top session musicians including Yiogos Kaloudis can lead to some scintillating music as illustrated on the impassioned vocals that accompany ‘Plea’ while the lyricism of the choir and lyra on ‘Afternoon at the tree’ is a sheer delight. Ioannidis possesses a soft, melodic voice that is best suited to a gentler musical backdrop and on the whole this is precisely what we hear with the additional use of strings on a song such as ‘The pilgrim’ blending well with the other instruments. Inner sleeve notes written by the musician in English help us to better understand the motivation behind the music, especially for the more politically and socially inspired pieces, most notably on ‘Homeland’. While what we ideally need is a meaty anthology of new and emerging Greek musicians with detailed notes by a Greek music authority aimed at an audience outside the country, this compilation of one of the finest of the new generation of musicians will do just fine for the time being.

Tim Stenhouse