“Amen” means “so be it.” Society knows the words as a religious summation, but Finnish artist Mikko Joensuu uses it to confront his arrival at the conclusion that there is no God and everything he thought he knew growing up with religion is a lie.
Right in time for Christmas, “Amen 2” is the second album in a trilogy that began with Amen 1 last spring. Fluid instrumentals and poignant lyricsin “Drop Me Down” and “Golden Age of the Lowland” mark the album as folk, merging out of vulnerable rhythms and chillwave ballads reminiscent of Leonard Cohen and John T Pearson. It’s a steadier step forward from its predecessor where choruses were dark and the world felt like it was dissolving for the listener right alongside Joensuu himself, and it finds the balance between loving life and its beauty and being terrified that everything will fall apart again. Tracks like “No One Knows” are brighter melodies studded with uncertain auras, slow instrumentals and hymnal-like vocals. Joensuu uses a broader palette this time and we hear how much looser he is, more relaxed.
Amen 1 was recorded over a lake in Finland, and it’s easy to hear how Joensuu cupped his hands and shouted across it, “Is there anybody out there?” Amen 2 is still those seven years of shattered trust and depression, but it’s more a reflection and gradual acceptance than carving them into the surrounding forest’s trees. Joensuu’s voice, though trembling, is resilient and the long tracks don’t run out of steam. Joy and acceptance seeps through the cracks in the synths and echoing piano melodies (“I Gave You All,” “No One Knows”).
Joensuu signed with Svart Records and Amen 2 will be released on December 16th and will be on CD, double vinyl, and digital. It will be interesting to hear how much of the dejected pathos will remain in Amen 3 and the whether the light Joensuu tastes is fulfilling, or whether he’s still teetering on the edge of the abyss. No matter what, the story is a compelling message we can all relate to whether we’ve cleared the journey or are still in the midst of it.
Press: Jay Taylor // jay