Johanna Glaza is a Lithuanian born but London-based independent artist writing baroque folk songs with an avant-garde twist. She has released a couple of extended plays and an album in 2017 called” Wind Sculptures” and follows this up now with another collection of songs on her album “Exile”
Title track `Exile` is a wonderfully stripped back slice of hypnotic folk. Johanna has a captivating voice and initially, I thought she was singing in an unrecognisable language or verbalized emotion as Elizabeth Fraser of the Cocteau Twins did at times. But, no, on further listens her annunciation is unique and enthralling and brought forth some almost suppressed feelings on listening. The next song `Dear Life` is a little “off the wall” and has a charming almost childlike appeal. Musically, it stops and starts along the way with an almost unnerving undertone and lyric of “don’t give up on me” shared throughout.
`Isabella` seems to be an unsettling tale of a mysterious possible murder from the viewpoint of the probable victim. It starts pretty accessibly musically before taking a bit of a curve ball midway through with a quite thumping piano segment and Happy Birthday being sung before reverting back to how the song started, weird but wonderful. There are some quite heart wrenching vocals on `Lonely Island` another offering that is an uneven journey with some fitful piano shimmers to accompany the pleading vocals. `King`s Alive` and `Catch And Escape` are probably the most instantly accessible cuts on the album. The former has a quite dream like feel to it, while the latter benefits from being almost stripped back with simple guitar and keyboard accompanying Johanna`s graceful vocals.
The last track `Albion` is also the longest running at over eight minutes in length and is a real Magnum opus. It was constructed to William Blake’s poem “Jerusalem – The Emanation of the Giant Albion”, the last, longest and greatest in scope of the prophetic books written and illustrated by the English poet, artist and engraver. Once again, the piano accompaniment is quite uncomplicated and allows the artist`s entrancing vocals the opportunity to express the meaning, sentiment and passion of the lyrics,
I must admit I was astounded that I hadn`t heard of Johanna Glaza. She is a unique and enthralling performer whose songs are full of ethereal charisma and mystery. Although comparisons will be drawn to similar artists such as Kate Bush, Joanna Newsom, Agnes Obel, Tori Amos and The Blackheart Orchestra, she has her own unique style and charm.
This album was a beguiling introduction to this Ambient / Baroque Folk artist and I’ll certainly be searching her back catalogue. You could do no worse that to let Ms Glaza cast her spell on you.
Rating 9 /10