Out of all the music reviews I’ve done for 2022 releases, this one took the longest to complete: and it’s not because the holidays have put me into a lazy slumber mode but rather because all 12 tracks in this album sent me through a paralyzing feeling of bittersweet nostalgia that I just couldn’t ignore. I had to endure and linger until I could weave the right words together to describe how Jesper Hasnaoui’s music hits so close to home - and here it is, my review for his latest album titled 'Twenty Eight Year Slumber'.
The album starts off with ‘Intro’, which features a graceful guitar instrumental with the most serene sounds of birds chirping. This automatically sets the entire album into a melancholic yet heartened mood and then transitions so neatly into the first track to make way for Jesper and the story he has to tell through the next 11 songs. One thing that remains consistent about this Oslo-based musician is that he is so rooted in nature - paying homage to the beautiful Norwegian landscape that has ushered him into producing atmospheric music and from there, he has managed to embed his own words and soul into the wonders of the environment organically. And by organic, I mean that Jesper’s lyrics are easy to understand and that’s why it hits you so hard. The way he tells his story is presented with no big words, no prejudice, and just a pure blatant display of vulnerability that we so often pridefully reject. That’s why Jesper’s words resonate…because it’s all the mundane things we’ve wanted to say but often sweep under the carpet.
I love how the album isn’t solely based on love or dependent on another person. As listeners would revel into this album, Jesper explores multiple themes on finding one’s self, recalibrating perspectives by simply looking at the stars, and above all things: how spending one warm night in Oslo with the right somebody could make everything just right.
Now that I think about it, I hear so much of Benjamin Francis Leftwich and Gregory Alan Isakov with the way Jesper plays and sings. While something about the combination of soft vocals and simple accompaniment almost instantly pulls anybody into a wistful state, one thing that sets Jesper apart is how he doesn’t put himself into the spotlight but rather grow and blend around it - almost as if you forget that you were listening to somebody else when you play his music because his words and experiences become your own and permeate their way into your heart.
I guess there’s nothing left here for you now but to listen to his album, and I bless that you will have the same cathartic experience that I had when I first heard Jesper Hasnaoui’s 'Twenty Eight Year Slumber.'
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Editors note. To be clear, 'Twenty Eight Year Slumber' is definitely the name of the album, and not a reference to how long it took Harri to write the review.