Review of Diane Jarvi’s Paper Heart

By Ted Heinonen · New World Finn · August 2004

Paper Heart Glows With A Warm Inner Light

Paper Heart is the fourth solo album by Minnesota’s premier singer/song writer Diane Jarvi. Co-produced by Diane and recorded at Matthew Zimmerman’s “Wild Sound” in Minneapolis, Minnesota, it is her 3rd recording project under Matthew’s care. She is competently accompanied by a wonderful group of musicians—the best the Twin Cities area can offer—with Gordy Johnson on bass, Marc Anderson on percussion, Dean Magraw on guitar, Brian Barnes on guitar and mandolin, Dan Newton on accordion, and Clint Hoover on harmonica.

It’s hard to know where to start but suffice to say this album is a gem—it is like finding a wet agate on Superior’s shore glowing from a warm light within.

Paper Heart starts with “I Sing Your Evening Into Stars” (Mina Laulum Sun Iltasi Tahtihin) – a poem by Finland’s poet laureate V,A. Koskenniemi, it is a dreamlike waking of spring to summer, of souls returning home, of a wish to be near one’s love.

“Shiver Me Timbers” and “Meet Me on the Moon”, two poems by Alaskan poet and one-time Minnesota resident John Reinhard, are beautifully arranged and given wings to soar. With “Leina Leski”, the “Song of the Unblessed Widow” Diane will delight her Finnish fans who look forward to her arrangements of traditional Finnish ballads.

In “Where Were You Last Night” Diane steps into the city streetlights and serves up the blues as sultry as can be and sweetened by a great harmonica by Clint Hoover. She stays in the blues vein with the title- cut “Paper Heart” an original by Diane that show off her versatility as a musician and poet. “Triste Es Lo Cel” – Sad is the Sky is a French love song that could have come from a Finnish pen with all the images that it conjures.

I was taken by her arrangement of Joe Hill’s “The White Slave” the haunting story could be taken from the pages of any of today’s newspapers in any city. In Jos Voism” we return to traditional Finnish material, sorrows soaring on a lark’s wing.

Then there is “Padam Padam” In the past when friends would ask me to describe Diane’s vocal styling I would bring up images of gypsy-cafe singers like France’s Edith Piaf. Even the folk magazine Dirty Linen in its last review of Diane used the same comparison. On Paper Heart she finally brings to her collection this classic of Piaf’s. Listening to this song we are taken away to a street cafe in Paris (or a street table in Helsinki) with this song of love lost.

“You Do Me In” is the final bluesy original selection, and to these ears, she sure does… this album ended far too soon! If you ever have the chance to hear Diane live, and especially if she’s singing with Minnesota’s “Cafe Accordion”, please do so—most of the musicians on this album are with this entertaining combo.

I want to hear more from Diane. Or let me put it this way (my apologies to Glanzberg and Contet for the liberties I take with their song “Padam, Padam”):

This album obsesses me night and day
This album is not the sort written today
It comes from as far away as I come from
Carried by a hundred thousand musicians
One day this album will drive me crazy
A hundred times 1 wanted to ask “why?”
But it stole the words away from me.