For the past ten years, Afie Jurvanen (Bahamas) has made a name for himself with a uniquely mellow indie sound. For his 2018 Earthtones, Jurvanen returns with both his most characteristic and exploratory album so far. The album is unpretentious and captivatingly honest. Jurvanen has found his voice by exploring what kind of music he finds interesting.
“Opening Act (The Shooby Dooby Song)” is not the albums opening track, but it’s feeling of familiarity and coolness represent the whole album. Jurvanen pays homage to his humble beginnings and those of most performers who start out as another band’s opening act. “I know it isn’t me that the people came to see” he reckons, but he plays on. It’s a playful and endearing song, especially given its placement towards the beginning of an album in which listeners presumably are listening for him.
If nothing else, Jurvanen’s personality will captivate you. Starting from the first notes of the opening “Alone” Jurvanen welcomes listeners into his space where every note and lyric reflects his voice. Jurvanen reflects on his own career, his identity and his difficult romances.
Jurvanen isn’t shy about his sound or writing about his own concerns. On “Everything to Everyone” he sings “I can’t be everything to everyone” and that seems to be his motto through the whole album. He welcomes you to enjoy his music, but he asks the same humility from listeners that he employs in playing. “With no expectations/ life can be sweet” he sings on “No Expectations” and he abides by it the whole time.
Jurvanen’s laidback attitude runs through the album, but the songs morph and change through the album enough to keep it energetic. The downtempo “No Wrong” and “Any Place” offer a chance for Jurvanen to show off the strength of his voice. The less downtempo “Way With Words” and “Everything to Everyone” demonstrate Jurvanen’s moderate sound and genuine songwriting skills. In “Bad Boys Need Love Too,” Jurvanen abandons his usual style for something halfway between raping and singing.
It can be hard to characterize an album like Earthtones, but Jurvanen cultivates a distinctive and authentic sound that’s easy to listen to and never gets dull.