I'm often disappointed by the dirth of great music made by women. Maybe I just don't know the right people, or don't appreciate the right kind of music, to think that there are many women musicians who can blow my mind. Or maybe it is just that there aren't enough Eva (aka "Gustav") Jantschitsch's in the world to make the unique, unapologetic music that I prefer. "We Shall Overcome" is a compelling combination of the famous phrase that gives it its title, quirky music, and a punk ethos. In spite of Jantschitsch's strange references to a "big bingo show," it is pretty clear what the song is about, and it almost makes me want to dye my hair pink and go around telling people to fuck off. The fact that she employs very modern music behind her revolutionary lyrics doesn't hurt either.
Jantschitsch got some help from friends, (such as mixing and mastering from the prolific Martin Siewert) but she plays the majority of it herself. Adding in her beautiful and expressive voice, talent is the only conclusion. I'm impressed by her English lyrics, and probably would be by her German lyrics if I could understand a little bit more of them. Even on a song like "One Hand Mona" --which is indeed about a woman named Mona who "lost her arm and married Karl" -- she conveys well the dissatisfaction that pervades her music.
Though most of the music is the bastard child of pop, it is the 'bastard' part that really catches your attention. There is little mainstream about this besides the beat. Reading the list of instruments used is a lesson in the strange sounds that one can coax out of 'normal' instruments, since they are so hard to identify within the songs themselves. Yet Jantschitsch combines them so skillfully, there are no real anomalies. The peculiarities in each song don't slap you in the face; they inspire you to get to know the songs intimately out of curiosity of what you might hear next. Even in "Rettet Die Wale," which recycles orchestrated music from early last century and pairs it with Jantschitsch's voice, you might find yourself nodding along.
Some of the best songs on this album are the quietest ones. They are delicate but powerful. "Genua" is sung in German and French, with two lines of English at the end. It is held up with soft and droning sounds, such as violin, that inspire a beautiful somberness. It took me awhile to like "Little Weird Grrl," which is a bit more upbeat than "Genua," but Jantschitsch's sometimes jerky singing and music that seems to only accidentally care about her vocal melodies balance it. Meanwhile, she sings about what it's like to be a girl who challenges people's conception of what a girl should be like.
If anyone should be giving advice on how to be the kind of girl that people don't expect, it should be Jantschitsch. Before I read the liner notes, I assumed that Gustav was a collaboration merely fronted by Jantschitsch. It may sound sexist, but it seems very rare that I hear such amazing music written entirely by women, music that impresses me not because of the sex of it's maker but because it is simply damn good music. 9/10 -- Eden Hemming Rose (25 May, 2005)