The multidimensional pop jazz of Anu Junnonen makes you immediately think of musical universes such as Björk, Tune-Yards, St. Vincent or Hanne Hukkelberg. Armed by the famous Finnish guts and an uncompromising attitude the earlier jazz freak has turned into a mature song writer delivering music that is edgy yet accessible.
Following her two albums with the band aNoo, on which, from 2007 onwards, she managed to bridge the gap between jazz, pop, folk and tango, and her predominantly electronic ‘solo’ record Skeletons, she now comes knocking with a new, exclusively digitally available ep.
In the last four years the Brussels based singer/musician with Finnish roots, has by no means been idle. She toured almost continuously with her trio, even gigging in China, kept herself busy with the a capella folk group Voxtra and was also involved with Brussels Vocal Project, a collective that created the song cycle Modern Tales, along with American drummer and composer John Hollenbeck.
Open Your Window is a three track collection, recorded in a single day with producer Koen Gisen (cf. Dans Dans, Robbing Millions etc) and played by Anu (vocals, keyboards..) and her faithful companions, bass player Gil Mortio and drummer Alan Deval. ‘Together we are a compact but agile band, which, depending on the material, is able to sound both modest and grand’, the artist reflects.
With her new release, Anu further expands the style she has previously explored with Skeletons. Her sounds are still being manipulated electronically, yet the source of her samples is now predominantly acoustic. ‘More than ever, I aim for a sense of harmony in my music’, Anu offers. ‘I’m still a sucker for gorgeous melodies, but at the same time I want them to be slightly contrary and abrasive. There are few things I find more attractive than flawed beauty’.
Even though the three new songs on Open Your Window are stylistically different, they also form a unity. The repetitive yet poppy title track is based on a sample of ‘prepared piano’ and a lyric that is simultaneously honest and tongue in cheek. ‘Ain’t No Use’ walks the narrow line between rock and jazz, but what at first hearing sounds like a baritone sax, in fact turns out to be the processed sound of a ship’s horn. The cinematic ‘ Hypnose’, which has a touch of an r&b ballad to it, was conceived by Anu when she was pregnant with her first son. The song emanates both confidence and cosiness.
The current ep is a precursor of Anu’s next full album, which is to be released some time next year. What will it sound like? Poppy and adventurous, tuneful but with strong emphasis on rhythm. ‘Well, I am guided by my intuition’, the singer says. ‘So everything remains possible.’