ESCBubble review Mikael Saari’s new release “The Grand Letdown”!

Here at ESCBubble, we were excited to be given the opportunity to hear Mikael Saari’s new album “The Grand Letdown” which is due for release tomorrow, May 6th.

Mikael has waited some time for this, his first album, to come to fruition and it includes both his 2016 UMK entry “On It Goes” and also a new extended version of 2013’s “We Should Be Through”.

The 28 year old singer/songwriter has worked with producer Kai Poutanen on “The Grand Letdown”, which includes twelve original songs written by Saari and one cover song from Queen.

We were lucky enough to catch up with Mikael prior to his big media launch on Friday, and he answered some questions about the album for us

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Mikael, thank you for letting us have one of the first listens to “The Grand Letdown”,  it’s certainly no letdown to listen to! We first heard you in UMK in 2013, have you been working on the material for this album ever since then?

Actually, quite a lot of the material for the album was already written back then. The oldest songs on the album are from 2007, the newest from the past year. Some of the songs we even considered for UMK 2013. These three years have been so busy that there were very long gaps between studio sessions and songwriting. But, of course, the album and writing songs is always on my mind in some way, so I kind of am writing and making albums all the time. 

The tracks that fans won’t have heard before have an almost Irish folk feel to them, the instrumentation used is very reminiscent to that style, was this intentional?
 But of course! I’m a big consumer of Irish and Finnish folk music, and love to play it. The instrumentation is natural for me, I seldom use other than traditional instruments. In the bigger ballads, such as We Should Be Through it isn’t so obvious, but the instruments are the same.

The album starts off with “You Shall Be My Wife” and the lyrics sound very much like an apology to someone special.  Is there a story behind this?
The whole album is about that, and the whole album is titled after that thought. The songs are all about relationships gone wrong, apologies, shame and just general wondering on the subject, how life and relationships are.

The next track “C’est La Vie” has been available on YouTube for 3 years now, was this always going to be on your album?


Yes and no, it’s one of my personal favorites but was many times left out of the album and then brought back when we thought about the combination of songs.  (Warning – strong language used in the video)

 

 

“Storms” is next , and I think it’s my favourite of the ones I hadn’t heard before, the way it builds is just fantastic.  What can you tell us about this track?


“Storms” was composed first to a song lyric sent to me in Finnish. I thought it was a fine song, but it didn’t go anywhere, at least not for now, so I took the composition back to my desk, altered it a bit and wrote my own lyrics.

“On It Goes” is obviously now a Saari classic, and you won the Fan Award at UMK for the second time in 2016.  How did your 2016 UMK experience differ from 2013?

2016 was much more fun, in every way a better experience. I got things the way I wanted them to be in my staging, got to work Reija Wäre, the choreographer and Sofia the dancer, it was so great.
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“Revontuli” and “Kaipuuvalssi” are two instrumental tracks that you’ve included on “The Grand Letdown”, was it tempting to write some lyrics for them?
Maybe with Revontuli, yes. Kaipuuvalssi was always meant to be a piano piece, and I have only thought what it was saying. Words are a different language from music, with music you can add your own ideas of what the music is telling you, and that’s the beauty of that. Revontuli is Northern Lights in Finnish, and the music is my attempt to picture the chilly cold winter night and then the dance of the Northern Lights.

Your collaboration with Color Dolor singer  Stina Koistinen was uploaded to YouTube back in February with a beautiful video (see below)  It’s a really sad tale of heartbreak.  Can you tell us more about this?

Getting Stina to sing with me was an idea of mine that was before the song even got finished. And I just couldn’t think of any better way to sing a duet than a raging “dialogue”, a hopeless never-ending argument between lovers that can no longer be together, for reasons that we all have, it can be anything. Stina is just wonderful.

Your YouTube channel has a number of Queen covers on it, how did you choose “Save Me” as the one to appear on your album?
Save Me fits “the Grand Letdown” musically and lyrically, i think. And what’s more, I love the song.

I actually prefer the extended version of “We Should Be Through” to the original one! How did it feel recording it again 3 years later?

It was actually fun! I was afraid of that in many ways, but I have to say that I, too, prefer this version. This is actually the original version, the UMK 2013 version is the 3min cut we had to make.

“She’s Gone” is another track which really tugs at your heart when you explore the lyrics, is any of this autobiographical?
This is my personal favourite song from the album. And yes, the feeling of it is familiar to me, and I dare think it is for the most of us.

“Pray For My Soul” is another that uses traditional instruments and finishes off the lyrical songs on the album just perfectly. It’s quite melancholic, but has some uplifting lyrics included.  Did you ever intend to write any Finnish language lyrics for any of the songs?

For these songs, no, I haven’t written Finnish lyrics. I have written music in Finnish, though, and my clear intention is to release an album in Finnish some day, maybe as a part of a band. That is one the many dreams of mine. But Mikael Saari will of course be writing albums in English.

 

Thanks again Mikael for giving us this opportunity to listen to your album, and we wish you all the best on it’s release!

“The Grand Letdown” is going to be released on Friday May 6th, and Mikael will be performing a 2 hour concert at the Lahti City Theatre, along with the orchestra that he used on the album.  If you’re going to this concert, it would be great if you could leave a comment below and let us know what you think of the album!

You can pre-order the album here

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