Norwegian artist, composer and producer Pieces of Juno returns this summer with the third in her tetralogy of albums, Metanoia.
The album title - Greek for changing one’s mind and a general symbol of change and awakening - is a perfect one to describe the career of Pieces of Juno so far. The work of Juno Jensen, her moniker has undergone some stylistic changes over the past few years from instrumental bass-driven sonics, through electronic pop, to the style that’s dominating this album and the previous two. Juno has called it “Northern Noir”, and it’s a perfect description.
Metanoia like Kalopsia and Tacenda before it is a cinematic and gothic record. It’s torch songs, red wine, jazzy, telling a sad story to a bartender you barely know. It showcases Pieces of Juno’s development as a lyricist and vocalist and is a powerful meditation on candour.
“Metanoia is about seeing the truth of one's own existence and behavioral patterns,” reveals Juno, “and to make a life altering change with self acceptance, forgiveness and a positive mindset.” Each album in the tetralogy so far has had a colour attached to it, and Metanoia’s is a luxurious dark green (Illuminating emerald #319177) which matches the richly textured music perfectly.
Working again with string maestro Freddie Holm, and collaborating for the first time with multi-instrumentalist Bebe Risenfors, the songs which make up Metanoia have a truly organic feel which comes from improvising takes in Holm’s studio. “I wanted to do something different for Metanoia,” Juno explains. “The idea to record with Freddy in his studio in an acoustic setting came natural. He brought Bebe in to play clarinet, cornet, sax, percussion, keys.. you name it! Our chemistry in the studio was astonishing! We improvised the arrangements and it worked perfectly. We recorded all songs as a one take (three goes, and we chose the best one) in two days and I'm so grateful for this experience.”
First single “Ocean Floor” has rippling keys throughout, weighty compared to the washes of ambient fuzz in the background, or the light drift of Risenfors’ clarinet playing. Over it all, Juno’s witching hour vocal is deliciously mournful.
Forthcoming single “Strawberry” is an eerie piano-led ballad, flipping the traditional boy-meets-girl story to focus on being yourself, being an individual. “I’m not lost, you see / I’m exactly where I want to be” sings Juno from the female perspective, backed by creeping reedy notes from the woodwind, and the scraping of bows. It’s a love song, but an unsettling one.
While Pieces of Juno enjoys donning masks and taking on personas (Juno will often be found wearing a brightly coloured wig for her live shows) it’s all done in a search to find our true selves: “In life, we wear different masks for different occasions: A mask for work, a mask for hanging out with friends, a mask for family. By the way we talk, dress, what subjects we discuss, body language, images on SoMe - right? But sometimes, all of these identities can also be confusing. Who am I really?”
With Metanoia, while personas abound and masks are worn, it feels like we’re being let in just a little to Pieces of Juno’s world. There’s an honesty in these songs, a bearing of the soul and a communion with nature. Juno, though, wants us to take it even further: “Art, and especially music, can be a source to canalize and glorify destruction and greed,” she says. “I believe art needs to be constructive, healing and nurturing. Art has to be a source of creation and not obliteration.”