On the heels of her most commercially successful release to date, Janita returns with her highly anticipated new album, Haunted. The latest in an already acclaimed discography, Haunted is helmed by an artist with the courage and determination to evolve—not only out of artistic desire, but personal necessity.
“What do we learn?” Janita (YA-nee-tuh) asks in the album’s opening song, serving as a wry set-up for the answer she provides again and again with each charged moment of Haunted. Undeniably, she’s learned a lot. With its expanded emotional canvas for her melodic songwriting—framed by lush, electrified arrangements and her trademark vocals—Haunted is proof that this is an artist who has truly come into her own.
“The great artists aren’t afraid to grow while retaining what was unique about them in the first place,” says Janita from her Brooklyn home. “Those are the artists I’ve always admired. So with this album, I felt I had to raise the stakes for myself, regardless of the risks.” Risks that, in the end, proved to be as much personal as musical.
Before moving to Brooklyn as a seventeen-year-old, Janita had already been a superstar outside of the United States. In her native Finland she was a national icon, the premiere recording artist on radio and television, awash with awards, constant touring and commercial success: a historic and pioneering career, all while still a teenager. She was quickly signed by Sony after moving to New York, capitalizing on her international celebrity. Her eponymous debut was followed by 2001’s I’ll Be Fine and 2006’s Seasons Of Life, the latter scoring her two Top-40 hits on the US Charts. But throughout, Janita saw her own musical vision often being pushed aside for what she was told would be “safer” and in everyone’s best interest.
It was another artist, it turns out, who became the catalyst for the changes ahead. “I remember Meshell Ndegeocello came over. She exposed me to music I hadn’t explored before. I loved it. Totally devoured it. I moved into Keane, Tom Waits, Radiohead, Smashing Pumpkins, Hole, and PJ Harvey. A natural progression. Until soon I couldn’t find enough depth solely in the music I’d been inhabiting. Until I couldn’t express myself solely with the tools I’d been using anymore.” Bucking the conventional “wisdom” of her advisors and extricating herself from her label, she began inventing a different, defiant future for herself and her music.
Haunted‘s title track describes the ensuing transformation, akin to Dorothy stepping into color in The Wizard of Oz(“Coming from my hidden world / Through doors that I’ve closed / Across bridges I’ve burned, ‘Haunted’”). In “House On Fragile Terrain,” Janita declares “I can’t be who you’d like me to be,” with the understanding that no transformation comes without cost. Timeless string arrangements in “Hopelessly Hopeful” and “Believe Me I Know” meet cutting-edge electronic elements in “Martian” and “Last Chance To Run And Hide,” each track teeming with Janita’s soulful vocal wattage. “All along,” smiles Janita, “it’s been music that’s kept me sane, from the very beginning of my life . . . and it continues to do so.”
At its core, Haunted embodies the journey of an artist focused not on the ghosts of her past, but on the possibilities of her future. One of her own fashioning. One that for the first time now belongs to her. A future of hope and promise, and she invites her listeners to join her.