søndag 1. januar 2012

Rejyna: Solo Sjourn Live (2011)

US composer, vocalist and instrumentalist REJYNA may be better recognized by some when adding that her surname is Douglass-Whitman, and is the long time creative force behind US art rock band Citadel. And while this band constellation has been her creative vehicle for more than a generation, she's also been performing stripped down solo shows for some time. "Solo Sojourn Live" captures one such occasion, and was self-released in 2011.

Naked versions of songs featuring acoustic guitar and vocals alone is a daring way to go, a single person presenting their material to an audience with no help whatsoever. It's also a tradition as old as the acoustic guitar itself, and is in itself a continuation of traditions dating back to when humanity first started to use music as means of relaxation and entertainment. But like many others active in the field commonly referred to as singer/songwriter, Rejyna seems to hone in on the contemporary approach to this field, writing and performing material written with a rock music tradition in mind first and foremost.

Wandering, fragile guitar motifs underscore on most occasions, light of tone and filled with a melancholic atmosphere. One of longing rather than sadness and sorrow as I associate the emotional aspect of these tunes, with the main thought appearing in my mind being one of needs unfulfilled. Be that as it may be - or not - these are emotionally laden performances, and ones of a fragile and tender nature. Rejyna has a rather unique vocal delivery, with a range and tone not often encountered among female singer/songwriters, and utilize that aspect of her performance very well indeed to add slight intriguing details to her creations. In addition she always finds ample room for instrumental passages, in which subtle but intricate instrument runs and soloing are utilized to good effect to enhance the material. Many of them brief overlaying runs of the kind that calls for some rather nifty fingerwork, and frequently on top of a slightly contrasting motif I surmise is pulled from a midi set-up or similar. In these instrument only sequences we're also treated to some occasional minor inserts of folk-inspired material, although referencing Americana much more than any older folk music traditions to my ears.

In sum this adds up to be tantalizing performances on the whole, with plenty of details to enjoy and emotional associations to be made. Occasionally I do get the feeling that a piece may have been crafted for a full band rather than for a solo performance, On Life and Living and In Wonder examples of that, other times the composition in itself doesn't quite manage to sustain the nerve and tension needed quite until the end. Then again, I'm most suited to cover material of a rather more challenging nature compositionally and structurally, and as such isn't an expert by far when it comes to songs of this particular nature. In short: My personal impressions shouldn't by any means be regarded as some sort of a universal truth.

"Solo Sojourn Live" is a good production, perhaps not to the point of excellence in any department but a well made, well conceived and well executed live performance captured and released. Those with a soft spot for acoustic, stripped down singer/songwriter material will be an obvious key audience, and I suspect that those with a particular interest in the acoustic guitar should find this one to be of interest as well.

My rating: 70/100

Track list:
1. Stygian Barque
2. Voice Inside
3. On Life and Living
4. The Songwriter
5. Another Dream Away
6. Freedom Dream
7. In Wonder
8. Dreamworld
9. Standing Alone
10. If I Cry
11. Are You Aware
12. Happy Hands

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