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Suave and Spellbinding, Groovy and Mysterious, Jay-Jay Johanson: Rorschach Test

By Max Dembo |

Jay-Jay Johanson's new album, Rorschach Test, is on Qobuz in 24-Bit Hi-Res. Stream or download now!

Created in 1921, the Rorschach test consists of a series of graphic plates presenting non-figurative symmetrical shapes, open to free interpretation by the subject involved. A person's answers are used to assess their personality. In choosing the term for the title to his 13th album, Jay-Jay Johanson may have imagined that the effect of his music would change depending on who listened. However, since the mid-’90s, this dandy Swede has strolled with an unflappable nonchalance through the corridors of boudoir pop, stylised and fused with aspects of trip hop ("Why Wait Until Tomorrow"), soul, jazz ("Cheetah") and a touch of easy listening. Is it a dream? An acid trip? A late-night confession? A sung sunset? Whatever. Everyone and anyone can interpret this brilliant Rorschach Test in any way they choose, because the mood will always be feel-good at the exit.

As always, Johanson embeds his dreamlike crooner vocals in cinematic ambiences, occasionally flirting with downtempo. It is suave and spellbinding, groovy and mysterious. And when he lays himself bare, alone at the piano for the wordless "Andy Warhol's Blood for Dracula", he transforms into a futuristic Satie. On "How Can I Go On", he sounds like Chet Baker playing with Massive Attack. In short, the 2021 Jay-Jay Johanson isn’t launching a revolution, but this doesn't matter as he excels at his chosen mission: making Jay-Jay Johanson music.


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