May 29, 2006

Janita - Seasons Of Life

Janita.jpgWelcome to the latest issue of Denis Poole’s Secret Garden, the page that offers a British perspective on all that’s good, and not so good, in the world of smooth jazz and classic soul. It’s a long way from Finland to the streets of downtown Manhattan but this incredible journey has brought Janita to the verge of international singing stardom. With May 16, 2006 slated as the date for the release of her new CD Seasons Of Life and the advance single from it, ‘Enjoy The Silence’, already racing up the chart of most played on smooth jazz radio this is a year that promises much for an artist who has been favorably compared to the likes of Sade and Norah Jones. Although Seasons Of Life will be Janita’s first non-independent release in the USA, her 2001 debut I’ll Be Fine made it into the top forty of the smooth jazz chart. In addition she is no stranger to success in her home country of Finland. Here, as a teen singing sensation, she enjoyed multiple hits and Grammy awards as well as being voted “the most sensuous woman in Finland”. Now, signed to the Lightyear Entertainment label, she has written and executive produced all eleven tracks of the excellent Seasons Of Life.

The CD opens in sensational style with the warmly Latin ‘No Words’ where Janitas’s luscious and often sexy vocals flood through the tune like rays of Californian sunshine while just as good yet very different is ‘I Only Want You’. Possibly the most soulful cut on the album it is interspersed with delicious horns, sultry vocals and a standout bass line. Janita revisits the Latin theme throughout and notable in this respect are the soulful and romantic ‘I Miss You’, ‘Let Me Love You’ and ‘More Than Fantasy’, a sensuous slow burner with a laid back Latin sway and an injection of warm strings that considerably ups the emotional anti.

Indeed a notable production masterstroke is the shunning of synthesized strings in favor of a real sixteen-piece section. This proves to be a key component and is well demonstrated with ‘That’s How Life Goes’ where their subtle use and a compelling chorus adds to the smoky soul tinged quality of the track.

On Seasons Of Life Janita is supported by a glittering array of musicians. These include drummer Antonia Sanchez, who has played with Pat Metheny, and Daniel Sadownick on percussion who has appeared on recordings by Angie Stone, Incognito and Steely Dan. Keyboard player, guitarist and producer of the album is Tomi Sachary while sharing duties with Sanchez on drums is Scooter Warner. Founder of the Groove Collective Jonathon Maron plays bass and Jacques Schwartz-Bart provides sax and flute. Each in their own way contribute to the overall product and their ultra tight playing combined with good use of backing vocals are inherent features of ‘I Cant Get Enough Of You’, providing, as they do, a perfect back drop to a tune that contains elements of both pop and jazz but which Janita is able to make soulful too.

Janita proves, both with the title track and the bosso-nova charged ‘Too Late’, that she can handle romantic ballads with the best of them while ‘Bear With Me’ gives her the chance to take a leaf from Norah Jones book with a sparse yet warm love song to which she lends the considerable emotion of her vocals. Among the best on the album is the radio single ‘Enjoy The Silence’. Laid back yet compelling this is a number with a sound filled by understated strings and Janita’s sophisticated tones.

Seasons Of Life is a subtle and intelligent collection where less is always more. Its mix of Latin, jazz and gentle soul is music for grown ups and Janita’s voice has a quality that should ensure that she is around for a considerable time to come.

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Posted by Denis Poole at May 29, 2006 7:11 PM