I don't know which diva Johanna Juhola is referring to in the title of her latest album, but I can't help myself associating it with Juhola herself and her artistic profile: releasing her fourth solo album, she is a confident accordion star who has created her own unique style. Despite shining the limelight on the accordion, her music portrays a strong vision beyond just one instrument: all the musicians and especially the programming are organic parts of the whole, of the same vision.
It is a clever move to feature both her main bands on the same album, something Juhola has already done in the past. Johanna Juhola Trio and Johanna Juhola Reaktori share an overall style but each with their own spices, and the combination of the two gives more colour to the whole. Roope Aarnio on guitar, Sara Puljula on bass and Hannu Oskala and Tuomas Norvio on programming are all great musicians, but it is Milla Viljamaa's piano that steals my heart, bringing in some more lyrical emotions.
The guest artists also add their personal touches: Tero Hyväluoma's fiddle playing raises the tune Tillsammans to the next level and brings in a genuine pelimanni feeling. The title track is definitely one of my favorites – Tommy Lindgren's rap gives a thrusting energy to the verse, while Yona's beautiful vocals calm down the refrain, with Juhola supporting both energies with a suitable accompaniment. This time the tango genre is not as much in the spotlight as before.
Johanna Juhola has definitely found her own style. Some of these tunes are also included in her charming live performance show Johanna Juhola & Imaginary Friends, a combination of live music and video with many of the guest artists featuring on the video. Highly recommended!
Diivan jäljet – Shadow of a Diva (Johanna Juhola Music 2017)