Studio Album by released in 2009
Self-Portrait's tracklist:
Wonder Wonders
Lighting Strikes
Autumn Winter Spring
My Mother's Grave
Broken Nose
Make Her Mine

Self-Portrait review

Jay-Jay Johanson shares the most sacred

There is probably no man on Earth who does not know the line ‘So tell the girls that I am back in town’ from the Swedish singer and songwriter Jay-Jay Johanson’s hit. His music combining such styles as trip hop, electronica, pop and lounge has been pleasing the fans both in Europe and far beyond for more than a decade already. This autumn the artist releases his seventh album following quite a successful eclectic 2007’s record The Long Term Physical Effects Are Not Yet Known. Album Self-Portrait immediately draws one’s attention already with its title for here Johanson is obviously hinting at that he tells more of himself on this one. Of course his previous records were all rather sincere and a lot of lyrics were based on his personal feelings but this time the singer has considered more in detail his own personality and shared the most sacred. Drummer Magnus Frykberg and pianist Erik Jansson have worked on the album with Johanson and although their playing refines a lot of his compositions their role on Self-Portrait cannot be overestimated.

Trip hop elements prevail on Self-Portrait

Each song on Self-Portrait is the illustration of an event or an emotional experience or both in Jay-Jay’s life. Here are some interesting and catchy tunes but on the whole the record cannot be called a pop work even to a small extent for the trip hop elements, Johanson’s favorite, prevail on it. The album opens with a bit sad reflective ballad Wonder Wonders refined with fantastic dropping piano chords and an unusual percussion adds the impression of slow moving through time. Song Lightning Strikes conquers with the artist’s amazing vocals and a very beautiful tune whereas one of the most complicated pieces on the album is Autumn Winter Spring, a surrealistic seasons’ anthem based on the most fantastic images. Another example of the great pianist Johanson’s playing Trauma surprises with a heavier sounding making one feel somewhat oppressed while one of the singer’s most personal songs is My Mother's Grave on which he regrets the mistakes he has made in his mother’s respect. A song of a failed relationship Broken Nose is one of the most vivid and emotional in Johanson’s creative work and is performed solely with the piano accompaniment. On more rhythmic numbers Medicine and Make Her Mine barely heard notes of optimism appear but the final 6 minute long revelation Sore, refined with a most complicated instrumental background and a catchy melody returns the initial gloomy mood.

Johanson takes himself as he is

If the Scandinavian handsome guy’s sixth album has proved to be a kind of his constant course bend – the most positive and expressive in his discography, then on his seventh creation Johanson comes back once more to his favorite girl-friend, i.e. melancholy. Yet this time around he has gone a lot farther in studying the interior of his own psychic and introspection. On the surface Self-Portrait is a stylish, beautiful and melodious collection of 10 rather long tracks. Here are the same Jay-Jay’s expressive vocals, unexpected rhymes and brilliant metaphors. In fact this is an unforgettable journey along the memory alleyways in which some scraps of thoughts, fragments of images and parts of talks fly past you and it is those which comprise the performer’s today’s outlook. At the same time, you will hardly feel worried about anything listening to Self-Portrait, for it is but evident that as a wise and understanding person Johanson takes himself as he is and even if his self-portrait is self-critical it is still full of calm and peacefulness slightly shadowed with the regret about the past mistakes.

Alexandra Zachernovskaya (06.11.2008)
Rate review4.06
Total votes - 15

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