Dynamic New Album From Brooklyn’s Janita
Janita was already a star in her native Finland before moving to Brooklyn, more than half her life ago. Didn’t You, My Dear? is her fourth album released here in the States, a constantly shuffling deck of musical styles (I count pop, soul, rock, R&B, alternative, torch song, and I’m sure there’re other sub-genres I’ve never heard of . . .) layered over each other, swapping space in the spotlight, and held together by the singer’s distinct and expressive voice which roots each song, and the album as a whole, like the trunk of a tree.
The opening track, “Some Serious Gravity,” exemplifies from the get-go what makes the album so good. It starts out like an alt-rock sad-song, thickly produced with echo laid over the unhurried, guitar, until Janita’s voice pours in, slow and low at first, before quickly tilting up, followed by the melody, passing through multiple styles in the first minute. As the track travels, so does her voice, presenting non-stop grades and colors. It doesn’t sound like showing off because her seemingly endless supply of genuine feeling informs every lyric, every repeated chorus, with open-hearted soulfullness.
Every track is a variation on that process; well-written, interesting mixes of styles, that ultimately serve to frame the real focus, which is – more than the music, more than the lyrics – Janita’s voice. “No Excuses,” is the most pop-y track and is remarkable for giving her an athletic opportunity to trill, while “Who’s Gonna Tell The Wolf She’s Not a Dog,” and, “Beautiful You Are,” both bring a 90s, grunge-feel to the mix, which is an especially interesting contrast with the lounge-y, lush, quality of her voice.
Janita’s voice is the voice of an adult. It’s interesting to be introduced to an artist in mid-career, 9 albums in, with a full career-worth of experience behind her. While it’s my introduction to her, she’s not introducing herself, she’s fully formed. That confidence runs through the whole album. There’s an assuredness of talent and ability that, having been established, allows for (and what do I know? It’s the first I’ve heard . . .) a deeper connection between a performer and her work, which in turn provides that much deeper a connection between the music and the listener.