Festivali i Kenges (Albania) National Final 2022 Reviews: Viola Xhemali and Xhuli Pjetraj

Viola Xhemali — “Eja si erë”
Channelling 1990s girl group vibes, this track has all the elements of a mid-tempo pop hit of my youth. There are some lovely harmonies to accompany Xhemail in the chorus, backed up by R&B-influenced beats. And then just when you think you’ve got the hang of the song, it’s blown apart by a short but glorious saxophone solo before returning you to the smooth beats for a little longer. One of the genuine surprises of this line-up for me.

Xhuli Pjetraj — “Baladë”
I’m going to assume that the title of this song means “ballad”, and that’s certainly what it delivers. It’s a soothing track, with a beautiful acoustic guitar solo. Pjetraj’s slightly husky vocals gently carry you through the song, and I guess that’s also part of the problem: at times it’s so breezy it passes you by and doesn’t leave much of a footprint.