The Mesmerizing Sound of 1,0000 Lakes and Forests.
You never know what to expect with Scandinavian music; but this debut album; and the first in a Trilogy absolutely stunned me into silence the first night I played it; and can still send shivers down my spine when I’m least expecting anything new.
After the break up of his last band Joensuu 1685 Mikko spent the Summer of 2012 building a studio in a cabin/summerhouse in a forest by a lake in Northern Finland; where he has based himself writing and recording in that beautiful wilderness; and that loneliness comes across in every note on every song.
The album opens with Enjoy It While it lasts; Joensuu’s haunting voice, soft guitar and pedal-steel echoing off each other to create an almost Americana cinematic theme tune as strings sweep and swoop over some gorgeous harmonies. Not what I was expecting at all.
The songs that follow are all quite ‘deep and meaningful’ and very, very literate, almost poetic at times. Two songs I’d Give You All and Sometimes You Have To Go Far come in at over 7 minutes long; but not a word or note is excessive; with the latter again feeling very ‘full’ and cinematic………washing over you as it seeps into your very soul and heart.
While never actually sounding specifically like either; Mikko conjures up the ghosts of Bert Jansch and John Martyn on the fragile Thief and a Liar which is the finest combination of British Folk music and genuine Americana I’ve ever heard; and it’s taken a Finn to do it.
A while ago I got hung up on songs I wanted played at my funeral (it’s not all laughs at RMHQ) and Take Me Home Lord, with Mikko at the piano and a heavenly string section in the background is a definite contender for that playlist; and on its own merits is a stunning piece of work.
On a similar theme; but a lot more chirpier is my favourite song here; Closer to God which again has a subtle pedal-steel shadowing Mikko’s distinctive tones on a song so fragile it should come wrapped in muslin.
With so much music around these days it is difficult for artists like Mikko Joensuu to break through; but with an album of this quality….and Quality is the key word there is every chance the broadsheet music critics will get their hands on a copy of the CD and if they do…..he could very well be ‘the next big thing’ and deserves it too.
Released June 10th 2016