Jaakko Eino Kalevi by Jaakko Eino Kalevi (Weird World Records)
There are singers out there that when you hear them they just emanate such warmth and resignation that you’ll want to give them a hug or hang out with them and commiserate. Jaakko Eino Kalevi is one such singer, and on his “debut” full length album he’s confident, playful and has emotion and ideas to spare. The album is genial and synth-laden, the songs have a dreamy quality, ready to play while you doze in the afternoon sun, memories intertwining with barely heard conversations and the ambient sounds of the day.
On opener JEK chill synth stabs cut through bassy pads, horns blow in and Kalevi hauntingly sings in Finnish as the spacey-effects take you to a blissful place. Double Talk uses texture to great effect: fingers slide on guitar strings, sticks tick on cymbals, Kalevi’s low croon against Suad Khalifa’s equally sensuous delivery, all create a romantic yet forlorn quality. Deeper Shadows is both silly and soothing with a peppy flute melody floating through bouncy synths and distant vocals from Khalifa and Kalevi. Say has upbeat and funky drums, an evolving guitar part, buzzing horns and vibrant 80’s keyboards backing Kalevi and Khalifa’s throaty approach. The groove grabs hold and won’t let go. Mind Like Muscle draws you in with slowly solidifying tones, then drums jar you with a strident beat before slowing down for a dreamy break and strangely soothing second half. Kalevi’s repeated line “again and again” gets chopped up and blown away by a bright and soulful electric guitar that brings the song to an uplifting close. On Don’t Ask Me Why Kalevi does his best Serge Gainsbourg impression speaking Finnish and singing sexily in English to a languid beat and relaxed guitar, bass and jazzy piano. When the “oohs” and “aahs” come in the middle of the song you’ll have your eyes closed and waving your head around in pleasure. Not for the first time, on Room you might hear Steely Dan’s understated and funky aesthetic, Kalevi hitting highs along with the heavenly synths, guitar plucking along to the funky bass rhythm and in-the-pocket drums, female vocals ring in like bells.
Jaakko Eino Kalevi closes with Ikuinen Purkautumaton Jännite, an epic journey through synthesizer circles, hesitant drums, Sonja Immonen’s breathy spoken word, leading you ever so slowly into the spacey and rocking second half. A saxophone joins the fun, the drumming gets wild and the choir of “oohs” and “aahs” mixes with the spooky sounds of a theremin’s ghostly moaning and crying.
While Kalevi has been releasing singles and EPs for many years, Jaakko Eino Kalevi is an assured, moving and wondrous collection sure to please.
(by Bret Miller)