From the Vestmann Islands in Iceland, singer-songwriter Unnar Gísli Sigurmundsson aka Junius Meyvant, came out with his debut album ‘Floating Harmonies’ last year, bringing us vibrant soul and folk filled with various instruments. Previous singles as well as this record caught the attention of many, earning him tours around Europe and even some visits in North America whilst winning several national music awards in Iceland. Having released two singles in 2017, we’re getting prepared for another album that shows hints of rock and even more soul goodness for all to enjoy.
Passionate about painting and skateboarding at a young age, his path towards music was caught short in his teens when he was kicked out of music school and the notion of this career was not taken into consideration. This was until his early twenties, picking up a guitar at his parent’s house and getting into the feeling of writing melodies, songs as well as ideas that would constantly pop up in his mind. Joining a band, he eventually decided to go at it solo, taking on a different name – Júniús Meyvant.
Accompanied by a large band, Meyvant produces great depths of sound, like “Be A Man” on his latest record, tight brass instruments that dominate the whole track with soulful melodies, accompanied with dancing rhythms accentuating spikes in the feel of the song. “Beat Silent Need” has tropical percussions, violins joining along the guitar and brass instruments that lead a soul-pop tune with Meyvant’s raspy voice on top:
One of my favorite tracks from him is “Neon Experience”, again the bongos giving that extra sweetness to percussions, synths, brass and violins dancing together to create an explosion of soul and feel-good vibes – “Don’t let the whole world break you down, New day will come, come around”. The song structure always ends up surprising you, it always manages to stay fresh by altercating when instruments jump in and out, not mentioning Meyvant’s voice that reminds us sometimes of Dan Auerbach (The Black Keys) or fellow Icelandic singer Ragner Porhallsson (Of Monsters And Men).
More acoustic driven tracks like “Gold Laces” and “Signals” show us the beautiful, gentle and folk side to Meyvant with his voice resonating on those tracks whilst being carefully accompanied by violins and brass instruments, enough to put forward his talent as a singer-songwriter. Full of brass and punctuated, soul, rhythmic goodness is “Hailslide”, reminding us of modern Motown with different harmonies bringing together another feel-good melodic symphony that could blast its way through the summer evening.
This artist really is mesmerising in the way he’s conducted different instruments to work perfectly with his soul/folk pop sound, never becoming too much or too little. The tone of his voice and its restrain adds a natural touch to tracks that tend to bounce around, celebrating freedom all whilst Meyvant brings them back to reality with his lyrics. Being able to mix these two genres, without tearing them apart is incredible and is part of what makes this artist so special. His new single “Mr Minister Great” follows the same Motown mood we’ve seen with even more dynamics, bass, catchy lyrics and Meyvant reaching new heights with his voice. The other new single “Honey Babe, Don’t Be Late” sees more electric guitar that has a subtle rock tone before exploding in the chorus as another wonderfully crafted soul/rock track. Having discovered this guy only recently, I cannot wait for his second album, ‘Floating Harmonies’ was such a big surprise, his sound is so fresh and voice beautifully assorted with all the instruments he’s gathered. Look out for his upcoming new record, even though his name may be hard to pronounced, these soulful hits will soon be hitting radio stations near you.In the meantime, check out his performance for KEXP, even though it doesn’t have his full backing band, it’s a delight to watch!