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Image © Rockadillo Records 2005
(09 October 2005) The Finnish all-female vocal trio How Many Sisters is perhaps more famous among their audience for their slow rhythm of releasing records than anything else, even though contributions to equally great music groups such as the Adiemus Singers and ZetaBoo is good excuse for the ever-busy singers. There is a risk that the albums made in the middle of the pressure from other vocal work might die on the vine or somehow remain unfinished, but, when listening to the brand new album Thank You For The Kiss (Rockadillo/EMI (Finland) ZENCD 2102, 2005) by How Many Sisters, such fears can be abolished immediately!
Indeed, just like the previous HMS album Stolen Moments (review), everything is done with a real professional sense, all the way from the beginning to the end, and, like good wines, also good music needs some time to ripen and to get better and better. Even though the general theme of this album is "love", the musicians all avoid to make the music to sound clichéd nor saccharine. One must admire the totally seamless work between each of the singers as well as between singers and other musicians, though, if speaking of How Many Sisters, this is only a small wonder. Namely, according to their brand new website, the group has been together for sixteen years and their collaboration with Mr. Kirmo Lintinen--both with his own trio who perform on this album and the UMO Jazz Orchestra he conducts as well--has lasted more than ten years.
Every single detail on the album, let it be musical or other, is finely tied into a the theme of love which gives a lot of cohesion to the album. However, when listening a bit closer to the lyrics of the songs, it becomes clear that they include more than just one basic aspect of love. This is indeed one of the key things making this album so easily approachable, even for those who do not listen to this kind of "vocal jazz" music regularly.
The singers and musicians are highly committed to the project, knowing exactly what they are doing and how they are doing it. At its best this can be heard in the overall performance, in all pieces. The lyrics are always put into the center, and then the music then complements the rest, giving the lyrics a huge amount of justice. One can really feel the lyrics inside, and wander like the carefree "Vagabond" from one mood to another; from the thrill of the first kiss and first love to the longing for the loved one (of the beautiful, bittersweet ballad "Autumn In My Heart") or the not yet existing love of "Somewhere Or Other", through the general perplexity of being in love in "What Is This Thing Called Love" where one can indeed feel the pulse raising (in a positive way of course). Remembering the fact of love surrounding us all anyway, just like in the song "Love Is Love" where it is said: "Turtles do not see but yet they love". Just to mention only some very apt examples.
This album makes a slight exception when compared to Stolen Moments, namely, this time all but two of album's tracks have been composed by one of the singers, Anna-Mari Kähärä, who has also been arranging and co-arranging the majority of the music. Obviously there is nothing wrong to have jazz standards included in the albums of How Many Sisters as the group definitely make any jazz standard to sound fresh, new and exciting, but, it is definitely fair to allow also these highly skillful singers and their companions to make some new music to the world as well. One pearl deriving from this productivity is "Autumn In My Heart", with lyrics by Pirjo Aittomäki and music by Anna-Mari Kähärä.
The new How Many Sisters album has indeed once again succeeded to provide something for everyone totally without being neither too simple nor too versatile. The different moods of the lyrics reflect beautifully in both melodies and rhythms which also are versatile, and, what's best, one has not even forgotten the sense of humour from the music. The overture of the famous opera "Cosi Fan Tutte" by W.A. Mozart sounds great as a bit up-tempoed, jazzy arrangement that Mr. Kirmo Lintinen has done for this album. While waiting for the breakthrough of How Many Sisters abroad and the extremely well-deserved release of their albums outside Finland, clearly Thank You For The Kiss and the stunning music, Pirjo Aittomäki, Mervi Hiltunen and Anna-Mari Kähärä (also known as How Many Sisters) and the company!--Suvi Kaikkonen in Oulu, Finland and Russ Elliot in New York