What does Julia Andersson sound like?
Understated piano designed to draw you into a floaty headspace.
The review of Julia Andersson – Dröm
Hailing from Finland, Julia Andersson creates minimalist piano pieces that focus on intimacy, emotion and for her debut album, dreams. Dröm means ‘dream’ or ‘illusion’ in Swedish and each of the ten piano pieces on the album evokes a dreamlike quality. Be that stillness, reflection, nostalgia or something more naturistic or folklore-based – Julia has a knack for creating warmth through melody.
The album opens with a one-two punch. ‘Edith’ and ‘Saknad’ feel like sister songs as they both hit the same warm, cosy feels. The piano is recorded up close and personal and whilst you can hear the hammers, they are faint in the background. This isn’t an album where the piano guts are on display. Instead, it’s showcasing the warmth of the piano through careful and thoughtful melodies. Both are whimsical but with a playful twinkle in their eye – like a grandma reminiscing on her youth. ‘Framtid’ is much more buoyant, moving at pace and lilting up in chords and scales as if the heart is searching for something. It is a track that stood out upon first listen.
The other piece that immediately clicked was the rolling beauty of ‘Svävar’. This sounds like a forest or town theme from a J-RPG and I adore it. A fast, underplayed waltzing left-hand lets a strident right hand let higher notes hang in the air carefree. ‘Ljuv’ is far more subdued, like a lonely jazz player. It’s the longest piece on the album and in some ways the least eventful – it’s as if we are wallowing in ourselves. In an album feel of luscious warm tones, this is the token sad piece.
From that well, Julia Andersson begins to pick the listener up again. ‘Skymning’ is a curious piece that reminds me of music from Final Fantasy X – translated to the piano. It has a mysterious quality to it that I really enjoyed, whereas ‘Tillit’ is all about the tiny pitter-patter of the high notes. Think of a dramatic boom of piano chords… then reduce them to the softest performance on the highest octaves and you have the first half of the track. When a phrase is complete, Julia uses the pedal as a percussive clunk to end the bar of music. The piece sounds both regal and magical, with a sprinkle of Ghibli magic thrown in. ‘Aning’ and ‘Eftertanke’ feel like extensions of each other, with the latter having a curious European waltz flavour. In an album all about dreams and illusions, it is ‘Eftertanke’ and its sly, side-eye delivery that evokes illusions the most.
Mostly, as closer ‘Stilla’ showcases, ‘Dröm’ is a warm album. Julia Andersson has a knack for giving her music a folklore mystery to it. Each track could be a character song from a movie, game or mythology. Whilst she says her music is minimalist, Julia never scrimps on the melodic nature of her piano playing. She just doesn’t need to smash the keys. It is about thoughtful poise and restraint, making each note, chord and twinkle count… and she does. Simply beautiful.
Recommended track: Svävar
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