Review Summary: A promising debut album by a Finnish singer that is on a good track to earn that elusive epithet as 'ethereal'.
Ethereal has become a term used to describe female vocals in modern music for almost everybody girl/woman who either has a high-pitched voice a very specific one or a voice that has been filtered through a series of production elements. At some point, it included everybody from Joan Baez and Judy Collins, through Nico, Kate Bush, Siouxsie, Cocteau Twins’ Elizabeth Frazer, Bjork to some unknown current singer trying to emerge from anonymity.
Rarely though do they fit that elusive, ‘ethereal’ description. All those pr men trying to fit their new act along with Kate Bush or Bjork, and concentrating on certain voice characteristics forget one key element involved - the music has to match the voice in one way or other to earn such a comparison. Based on the evidence of her debut album Butterflies, Finnish singer GEA, to her parents known as Laura, is on a good track to earn that title at some point. GEA’s voice is certainly unique, on all the tunes here she sings in a high register, but never attempting or reaching a high pitch that can be unnerving sometimes, even with established singers like Joan Baez. At some points, it even has a fragile, almost vulnerable quality that made artists like Vashti Bunyan a cult act.
But what makes GEA’s music reach points where it could be considered to have ethereal qualities is her sense of melody and smart incorporation of Finnish musical elements and instruments (“Followers”) or subtle electronics and strings (“Steps Out Of Sight”), which showcase her music studies background and obvious skills of the producer and arranger Mikko H. Haapoja. At moments though, it is evident that GEA is yet to fully develop, particularly when she is left alone with her voice and a sole instrument (“Wind”). The solo setting though is much better used on “Enemy”, where the piano coda and voice really work well together and the touches of sounds of the waves and a Finnish wind instrument really complement the song. There’s even a commercial potential to be heard, like on “Real You And Me”, one of the more lively tracks here, where GEA’s voice is put to good use.
In essence, a very interesting and promising debut, where further musical growth could bring some fine ‘ethereal’ music.