'Is This Really Me' - 'The Iron Door'
Whilst we might be a few days into 2017, there are inevitably releases from 2016 which we haven't yet covered, and Finnish band 'Is This Really Me' have had their album out entitled 'The Iron Door' for sometime now. I originally heard a couple of the tracks two or even three months ago, but the full album wasn't available to stream, so it's been great to hear the whole thing - particularly as I was reminded of the likely good quality of the whole album by its inclusion in the forever excellent 'One Chord to Anothers' favourite Finnish Albums of 2016 - along with Matti Jasu and others.
So 'Is This Really Me' are a Helsinki based folk pop band, who write soft understated and generally lovely tracks that will leave you feeling reassured and at peace with the world. Behind the softness, however, the tracks are based on some fairly weighty explorations of the human psyche, and the 'key' to understanding 'The Iron Door' is an analytical reading of Dostoyevsky and his final novel 'The Brothers Karamazov. For those of you that know the book this will probably fascinate you, but please don't let yourself be put off if you're not as familiar.
Anyway I'll highlight just a few of the tracks which stand out. The album opens with 'Sun' and the simplest of instrumentation, with acoustic guitar, delicately arranged vocal harmonies and a fleeting piano - and the track then blossoms into a melodic indie pop song with more lovely piano accompaniment, such a positive feature of the album. After the more upbeat 'Promises', we're offered a stand out track entitled 'Forty Acres', with a really memorable chorus tune. And I particularly love 'Safe No More', firstly because of the lovely piano which supports the acoustic guitar at the start but also the gentle melancholy melody with cello and again piano backing up the sound - it's a truly lovely and thoughtful song. With a simpler theme, 'Roundabout Way' is an obvious opportunity to reflect on the lyrical content of the album, and I also really like the concluding song 'Lonely Fight', a short track which again links in to the themes at the end of 'The Brothers Karamazov'.
This is an album which has surprised me in many ways. Firstly I didn't expect it to keep growing on me the way it has done since I first heard some of the tracks 2 months go. And the lyrics are really clever, thoughtful and interesting - unexpectedly so for an album which is so soft in its delivery. It may of course be too gentle for some of you musically, but I totally understand why 'One Chord to Another' had it in their Albums of the Year, and I would really urge everyone to give this a try, to soak up the warmth of the melodies and let the words slowly sink into your consciousness. There is a lot more to 'Is This Really Me' and 'The Iron Door' than you might think at first listen, and albeit a few months late, I'm delighted we've been able to give this the coverage it deserves.
You can buy a copy of 'The Iron Door' here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/id1188601484 or https://isthisreallyme.bandcamp.com/
Keep in touch with the band here: https://www.facebook.com/isthisreallymeband/
And don't forget the Nordic Music Review competition where you can win lots of Finnish / Nordic CDs, just follow the link on the right hand side of this page...