Album Review: Wanderlust – Polina Kourakina

Polina is a newer addition to our thriving Cleveland music scene, come from Russia to Cleveland by way of DC and Dallas and a few stops in between.  She’s a breath of fresh air, and brings a lot to our rusty table.  Her 6-song EP “Wanderlust” is a riveting, lyrically intelligent album that delivers on all levels.  The music is structurally dynamic, and she possesses an impeccable sense of musicality.

The first track, “Catching the Port”, is explosive.  Jazzy, silky smooth vocals carouse over a groovy, toe-tapping arrangement that makes you want to dance.  Her guitar-playing goes beyond rhythm with a blues-infused skilled technique that’s occasionally hidden in the accompaniment, but knows when to appropriately rear its head.  From there, we move into a folksier song with lyrical vocals that sail across harmonic acoustic guitar.  The second track, “Fields of Life”, is a sonic treat, and the complex notes dance across the fretboard with occasional guitar percussives.  She has a unique, expressive pronunciation that’s incredibly enjoyable.

“Liquor and Wine” carries a smoky smooth latin beat, with spot on, powerful and dynamic vocals that weave and bob like a boxer.  “Somebody (Useless)” is a track you want to sing along to.  The lyrics are resonant and powerful, smart while remaining accessible to a pop music audience.  The song is melancholy, but not in a way that makes you feel dragged down.  There’s a sense of hope in it.

“Lock and Key” is probably the least enjoyable track, only because she takes a backseat to a male vocalist.  But that’s not to say there’s anything bad about it – by “least”, we’re talking about the least in a phenomenal collection of songs, so in other words, still fantastic.

The final song in an all-too-short CD (we want more, and can’t wait for the next release!) is “Me and My Friends”, and sounds the poppiest of them all.

Her vocals are sometimes a mouthful, like a giant bite of delicious cheesecake – sweet and smooth, a bit of sharp tang, and a little grit.  The album ranges from complex jazz to folksy rock arrangements, and showcases such a well-rounded musician.  Soulful, joyful, and powerful, Cleveland is incredibly lucky to have her here.

Find out more about Polina Kourakina at

Buy “Wanderlust” at

Support her effort to create her next record!

by Samantha Baine


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