Malta: Awe Inspiring Local Tune for August


And here we are, presenting to you all another monthly Maltese awe-inspiring tune. Riflessi (Reflections), sung by Karen DeBattista and composed by Mark Scicluna to the lyrics of Emil Calleja Bayliss is my next choice following Tema 79, reviewed in July. This song participated in last year’s Konkors Kanzunetta Indipendenza. Although it  did not make it to the very top, it was surely a magnificent stepping stone for DeBattista, following her triumph in this year’s Għanja tal-Poplu with Jien ma Naħdimx (literally, I don’t work).

The song’s vocab at the very beginning is predominantly marine and this reminds me of the first seconds of another successful song penned by Calleja Bayliss, Poeta Bla Kliem (Lost Muse), with words like nixxiegħa (spring), ilma (water), fond (depth) and riflessi (reflections) all related to water.  She finds herself stepping in this spring without managing to catch a glimpse of her own reflection, an absence which urges her to keep on insisting and go into another world, what she calls the surreal.

This is alluding to the incredible capacity we all have to immerse ourselves into another world, a world of our choice, doing away with our bitter reality and retreating into a better place, maybe another place of our own creation. Following her going into another world, her own reflections reappear, hinting her encounter with her very own self. Troubles with how her life might be unfolding become more evident and explicit by means of this stanza:

Din ħajti paradoss,

Għajjat bla ħoss

Kemm se ndum mitlufa nħuf?

Qed nitkisser f’elf biċċa

Qed inħossni nispiċċa

which suggests a life of opposites, a complete paradox (paradoss), ironically without any sort of life whatsoever, as implied by the mute screaming  (għajjat bla ħoss) and her being literally shattered (nitkisser) in a thousand of pieces (f’elf biċċa).  However, the comparision that follows, to a hopeful  (ma nieqaf qatt nittama)boat  in the middle of a storm (bħal dgħajsa f’maltempata) symbolises the strength of her very own persistence:

bħal dgħajsa f’maltempata

ma nieqaf qatt nittama

Confirmation to my interpretation of the reflections at the start of this review materialises close to the end of the song, previous to the very last chorus:

Kemm bkejt u kemm ħlejt żmien

Infittiex jien min jien

Ma kelli l-ebda ħjiel

Kif negħleb dan ix-xkiel

Imma issa sibt it-triq

Dak kollu li nixtieq

Riflessi ta’ min jien 

She is now face to face with who she really is (riflessi ta’ min jien), and the reflections she could not perceive with her eyes at the beginning of the song are now well visible at its final seconds, hinting a hopeful ending. However, one could well easily ask, but is she still in a surreal world, where everything is possible? And if she still is, what would happen should she return to the real, cold world that wipes out all reflections of who we are? 

Karen DeBattista, a year ago, gave an outstanding interpretation to this song and adding this up to her accomplishment at the 2014 Għanja tal-Poplu I believe that she’s surely one of the best emerging artists at the moment.

Further Reading: Karen DeBattista (Facebook / Twitter)


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