Alchemists were looking in vain for the way of transforming earth into gold. Listening to Lilit Pipoyan, one has the feeling that she has found the secret. Being all sad like earth, her songs are all radiant like gold and like sun. The radiance of her songs emanates from the sadness. It is like joy that emanates from everything when you are in love.
Ms. Pipoyan's album ''One Day of the City'' (available from armenianmegastore.com) leans more modern than her previous work, but modern in a way that reflects Armenia's consuming sense of its antiquity. In this tiny country in the Caucasus, writers who have been dead for centuries are discussed as though they came to dinner last week, and conquests from the Byzantine era are mentioned almost as current events. Yet Ms. Pipoyan's amalgam of traditional and contemporary idioms also has an interpretive freedom that speaks volumes about the newly unencumbered society in which it was created.
The album begins with three songs about a city in transition (Yerevan, clearly). In ''One Day,'' Eastern-tinged arpeggios on guitar are joined by light, syncopated percussion, which gives energy and motion. Here and in other songs, a flute's embellishments and a cello's plaint lend the characteristic pathos of Armenian folk music.
Ms. Pipoyan maintains a consistent sound, distinguished above all by her brilliant, ornate vocal interpretations. She saves her dreamiest, most capacious compositions for early lyrics, as in ''Far From You'' and ''My Beloved,'' with texts from the 14th and 18th centuries. Her interpretation of the village song ''Cold Waters'' is spirited and graceful. Depending on the tune, Ms. Pipoyan can sound like an Eastern answer to Edith Piaf or Joni Mitchell.
While Ms. Pipoyan's odes to Yerevan provide a thoughtful framework, the real soul of the album is the traditional ''Cilicia.'' The mournful, patriotic lyrics embody a fantasy about returning to Cilicia, a patch of land in modern-day Turkey in which Armenians took refuge in the 12th century. Since that resettlement at Cilicia is considered the origin of the Armenian diaspora, the song evokes strong feelings for far-flung Armenians, many of whom have never actually seen Cilicia or Armenia itself.
Ms. Pipoyan's rendition may annoy purists, but others will love her lilting way with the heavy words and her guitar picking, which has the tinny staccato of a music box. They may never want to hear ''Cilicia'' belted around a dinner table again.
Excerpt from New York Times article written by Meline Toumani.