I covered post / prog rock band Riutto yesterday and I’ll continue the theme of Albums with Finnish lyrics with J. Kajan, who released his album ‘Kertoisinko kaiken‘ last Friday. Riutto have such a big instrumental sound that actually my terrible Finnish language skills didn't spoil the enjoyment of the album, but Kajan’s songwriting feels more personal, so it has been more difficult for me to fully appreciate the release - thankfully the artist has steered me in the right direction with some lyrical explanations.
So J. Kajan (apparently his 1st name is a mystery to everyone, even himself) has been writing and performing live for 15 years. He’s very much in the singer songwriter mould, with folk, Americana and pop influences, and it was only through meeting producer Michael Bleu that he was persuaded to go into the studio.
The result is ‘Kertoisinko kaiken‘, which translates to ”Shall I tell everything”, a fluid album that feels quite intimate in its delivery and performance, but benefits from Bleu’s bold expansive production, and whilst actually I often like hearing quite lo-fi releases from folk / singer songwriters, I appreciate the clarity of sound here, particularly hearing the intricacies of Kajan’s guitar playing. Lyrically it considers the aspirational and competitive society we live in, but leading on to considering how we as individuals find comfort and inner peace in the place we find ourselves.
I’ll suggest some highlights.‘Pitkä on matka’ (translated to ‘Long is the road’) which Kajan explains “is about the bad habit of taking achievements and the positives for granted and always reaching for something more - this results in chronic dissatisfaction”, it’s a thoughtful topic for a track and something that I’ve been terrible for myself at times,
But musically it’s a few of the middle tracks in the album that capture my attention, with the languid flowing ‘Elossa‘ offering a catchy tune, whilst ‘Reppanan pojan tannsi’ takes you on a jaunty ride with another foot tapping melody. But actually the interlude ‘Tanssiinpyyntö‘ is really effective too, with a subtle string arrangement added, and offering an interesting break in styles amongst the classic songwriting.
The album ends with ‘Huutava hiljaisuus’ (‘Silence so loud’), with words inspired by Finnish national poet Eino Leino and borrowing some thoughts from two of his poems, as Kajan explains. “When taking down all masks, make up and protection, do I really know the person behind, or is he a stranger? And when all protections are taken down, it’s difficult to be alone in the solitude with own thoughts and self criticism, but also difficult to be surrounded by people when afraid of being judged”.
I wouldn’t be doing myself justice if I suggested ’Kertoisinko kaiken‘ was highly recommended for everyone, clearly the Finnish lyrics do steer this more towards an audience closer to his home, and I’m probably not suggesting we have an early contender for Album of the Year either. But I’m delighted to include the album in NMR, J. Kajan (along with Michael Bleu) have done a really good job in capturing the atmosphere of his music, the songs are nicely written, timeless in many ways, whilst the lyrical themes (at least the ones I understand) are well considered, and there is an expression in both the vocals and guitar that explains why he’s made an impression on people when performing live.