vrijdag 31 maart 2017

Cousins. Kim Janssen

For over a month I'm listening to Cousins, the new album of Kim Janssen. Although I've played the record at least a dozen times, under different circumstances, I find that I'm not able to connect to it. In a way I'm surprised as there are so many sounds and the approach to playing a song that I usually like. In another way I'm not, as this may be that one album on the neo-folk side of music that may be one of the too many.

Let's try and find out whether I can determine what inclines Kim Janssen's music and me to not connecting. Usually I would have left a record at that, as I put myself in a position not to write something negatively about a record in general. When someone has given his or her all, who I am to write overly negatively about someone's product of creativity, care and love? I may point out to an aspect I do not like or think doesn't meet an expected standard, but that is it. The reason I am writing here, is that I do not think Cousins is a bad album. It just seems to be missing something that makes a difference to me personally and I would like to try and find whether I can determine this element.

First allow me to make a few other comments. I notice that this album has been made with love for the music. Kim Janssen obviously believes in the power of his music. Great care has gone into the arrangements of the songs and not to obfuscate a lack of quality. Some songs can even be called lush. Strings and brass can be heard over the band and at times a very prominent drum, so typical for the neo-folk music of the 10s. My aloofness has nothing to do with the production as such. I can't find much at fault with the record as such, except that I have the idea in a few songs that they could have been mixed a little clearer in sound, but that is it.

So what is it then? A few things present themselves to me. First I find that the melodies do not resonate inside of me. When a song touches me, the melody starts its own life within me. It returns within my head, making me feel better or at least differently. None of the songs on Cousins touch me in that way. The result being that not one song can be reproduced by me. I can't sing or whistle a single song and I've played the record at least a dozen times since receiving it. Too often the record is over without me having noticed it being on really. So it doesn't draw me to it. There simply is no connection.

The second reason may be Kim Janssen's voice. I'm not really sure here, yet it may be part of the explanation. Again, his voice doesn't turn me off as some voices do, but I miss a sense of warmth in it, inviting me to listen, appealing to my ears. More or less the same happens with the melodies of the music. I hear influences from the 10s all the way back to Jim Croce in the early 70s, in voice and music, yet they do not assist me finding my way in.

The third reason may be coming closer to an explanation for me. I miss a true commitment somehow. That little spark making a song come alive. Whether from gladness or the deepest despair, a high or a low or just being glad in the middle, Cousins to my ears sounds flat, as if all emotions are neutralised. I am truly surprised when a little spark erupts in the title song, like the outburst of a long declared dead volcano on a bright clear day.

I have played Cousins often and probably may do so again in the near future. Paradoxical isn't it? Yes, it is. As I wrote and let me reiterate, Cousins is far from a bad record. Perhaps I'm still looking to find that spark, like I do not trust my own ears. Otherwise it may come with Kim Janssen's next record. The final song 'Rama VI' is a the one that does appeal to me. Where some air is let in and an acoustic guitar is the centrepiece of the song. As if control was surrendered to the feel of the song. And that may be my final finding. The brake may have been put on too often on Cousins. 'Rama VI brought 'The Stiles' from his mini album 'The Lonely Mountains' to mind. One of Janssen's songs I truly like.

Having written this I am going to invite you to listen to this album any way. This is me and my ears, trust your own and go find out what this album is about. I've read that someone else stated "Kim Janssen's best record ever", so there you go.


You can listen to Cousins and buy it here:


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