With the door finally closed (regrettably) on Color Dolor, which has played its final concert, Stina Koistinen resumes her Stinako persona with a double header of two associated singles; one of them a cover, the other her own work.
If you haven’t come across Stina before where have you been? She’s been featured here many times and I felt obliged to award her the ‘Single of the Year’ last year for the thumping pop anthem ‘Pelasta Mut’.
I always look forward to hearing new music from her because there’s a high degree of class about just about everything she does and because she habitually does something new and intriguing every time.
On this occasion she’s chosen to link two songs. The first is a cover of Paavoharju’s ‘Ikkunat näkevät’ (‘Windows can see’) and the second ‘Toukokuu’, which looks like it could be sushi, but which translates as May (as in the month of).
(Paavoharju was a Finnish musical collective of ascetic Christians formed around two brothers, Lauri and Olli Ainala).
I’ll repeat in full what she says about both tracks because it is instructive.
“It was years ago I first heard ‘Ikkunat näkevät’. I’ve been haunted by this song ever since. Paavoharju’s original version will always be the best and I only wish we’re doing the song justice. The melodies are completely mesmerising, I just love to sing it.
‘Toukokuu’ is a tiny song of saying goodbye and moving on – while still loving one another. The singer is asking for permission to leave in mutual understanding. (Editor’s note: as I’m sure they do in Japan, I can’t shake off this oriental connection!) Where the person is leaving while talking of winds of May and verdant trees – we don’t know. A wild summer? Afterlife? It’s up to the listener’s mind to tell.”
“I feel like these two songs are like sisters in terms of harmony and the tones in them. It happened by accident, because I wrote ‘Toukokuu’ way before I decided to ask Paavoharju for acceptance to do a cover of their masterpiece.”
I also wonder if there’s a hidden message about Color Dolor in ‘Toukokuu’. That’s the listener’s mind working overtime.
‘Ikkunat näkevät’ is a tale of two halves as Gary, Alan and the boys say, the first part being simple voice over violin and the second a violin/cello/synthesiser symphony with that voice floating around as if it had taken on a life of its own. Is there anything she can’t sing?
‘Haunting’ is an overused word in reviews like this but that is exactly what it is. As is often the case I’ve tried to identify a film where it could be the soundtrack. One of the scenes in Don’t Look Now where Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie are chasing around the back alleys of Venice in pursuit of the little girl in the red coat perhaps? Or the final scene in the original Blade Runner where Rutger Hauer gives his farewell soliloquy?
Both classy films; and this is one classy rendition of a classy song.
‘Toukokuu’ sounds like the musical accompaniment to the end of a film where the heroine mourns the fallen hero, slain at the very moment of victory by an arrow inadvertently fired by someone on his own side. It has that sort of melancholia about it and could have stood simply as a piano/vocal piece but the late addition of sombre synthesiser is as brilliant as it is apposite.
The last time I was in contact with Stina I joked about whether she would apply for the vocalist’s job at Nightwish if it ever became available. As a big fan of that (mainly Finnish) band I was disappointed to find that she isn’t which is a shame because I’d love to hear her do a cover of ‘Sleeping Sun’, ‘How’s the heart?’ or even ‘Shoemaker’ while she’s in cover mode.
But for now, feet up, lights dim, glass of wine, and immerse yourself in these two gorgeous songs.
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