Review: Joonatan Elokuu - A Vagrant’s Whim (2010)


artist: Joonatan Elokuu
release: A Vagrant’s Whim
format: CDr
year of release: 2010
label: Utupuu
dur­a­tion: 46:07

detailed info: dis​cogs​.com

After sev­eral years of build­ing up steam as Aura Shin­ing Green, it seems Joonatan Elokuu has recently settled into a rel­at­ively steady rhythm of writ­ing and record­ing songs. Mush­room Heart was a very pleas­ant album from 2009, and this one, self-released in late 2010, is its equally fine suc­cessor.

Even more so than the last time around, travels form the inspir­a­tion for this col­lec­tion of singer/songwriter folk pieces. The road took Joonatan and his wife Helena through South­ern Europe and Asia, as we can see from titles like “Mont­ségur”, “Valen­cia”, “Silk Road Sun­rise”, and “Rishikesh Song”. This, how­ever, hasn’t res­ul­ted in an over­load of ori­ental and raga influ­ences, as has been a fairly com­mon occur­rence in folk music since the 60s. Though cer­tainly inspired by all kinds of vagar­ies from mod­ern folk, gui­tar and voice dom­in­ate prac­tic­ally every­where on these songs of Joonatan’s, and frankly, he needs little more to make per­fectly enjoy­able and intim­ate songs.

That’s not to say there isn’t some vari­ety to be found. Melod­ies are executed with flair and diversity across the dif­fer­ent tracks, and in some places intens­it­ies of arrange­ment high­light the flow of the music, such as in the rich “Wicker Girl”, where mul­tiple gui­tar lines and addi­tional vocals by Helena fill up the sound per­fectly. At the other end, there is the ambi­ent spoken word piece “Nancy”, a brood­ing track based on soft organ chords in the back­ground, some use of samples, and intro­spect­ive text. I wouldn’t have minded even more of these exper­i­mental sojourns, and per­haps it would have made the album more bal­anced and power­ful.

As it stands, though, A Vagrant’s Whim is another nice album from a warm voice among the under­ground folk wan­der­ers of today. Joonatan and Helena are on the move once more, but there are plans of rereleas­ing remastered ver­sion of the Utupuu albums in the future. Until then, the two have made all of their recent albums avail­able as a free high-quality down­load on their web­site here, so there is no excuse for not check­ing their mater­ial out right now, and if you like what you hear, I’m sure they might have some phys­ical cop­ies avail­able for sale.

Reviewed by O.S.

Track­list:

1. A Song Writ On Leaves (3:17)
2. Rishikesh Song (3:07)
3. Wicker Girl (3:44)
4. Silk Road Sun­rise (1:50)
5. A Dream By The Ara­bian Sea (3:52)
6. Mont­ségur (1:24)
7. Born Again With A Hedgehog’s Heart (5:30)
8. Nancy (4:07)
9. Valen­cia (5:11)
10. Brother Sun (2:58)
11. Like Christ And Osiris (5:19)
12. Galilee (5:48)

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