At this point, Júníus Meyvant feels like an old friend to KEXP and the KEX Hostel. Today was the fourth time Meyvant has played our broadcast at Iceland Airwaves and he’s stopped by our Seattle studio twice, most recently in 2017. It’s a beautiful way to start your day, easing in with your coffee and a familiar face. It’s even better when that familiar face has a voice as smooth and sultry as Meyvant’s. In fact, the last time we caught Meyvant in Reykjavik, he wandered the halls of the hostel with his guitar urging everyone to “rise and shine” before playing an intimate set in a dorm room.
Meyvant is probably most accurately categorized in the “singer-songwriter” category, but that really underplays the myriad influences at play in his music. While he can tenderly croon solo with an acoustic guitar, he also can channel the soulful folk bombast of legends like Van Morrison or modern-day troubadours like Ray Lamontagne. Whether he’s performing stripped down or backed with his lively backing band, seeing Meyvant live is always certain to be an invigorating experience. Today's performance was extra special as Meyvant debuted all new material from his upcoming album Across The Borders, out Jan. 25, 2019.
Prior to his set, I sat in on a chat with Kevin Cole and Meyvant in which Meyvant was lavishing his praise for Curtis Mayfield. Once he started playing on the Kex stage, it all suddenly made sense. These new songs are Meyvant at his most soulful, his raspy croon aching over arrangements lavished with transcendent organ tones, trumpets, and saxophones. Meyvant and his band feel like they could've stepped out of a smoky, 70s Detroit nightclub. It's the best kind of time warp. For half an hour it didn't even feel like we were in Iceland, even if the band sounded cool as a glacier.
It should be noted that Meyvant is also incredibly funny. Between songs, he'd joke that he paid everyone in the audience to be there and bantered with the crowd. At one point he called out asking if anyone was from Kenya, "You never know!" he said. It turns out someone was here from Ethiopia! His playful demeanor added to his overall charisma as a performer. We've heard Meyvant numerous times over the year and each time he finds new ways to refine and expand his music. He's consistently great, but also always in metamorphosis. It was a treat to get a sneak peek of what to expect next from this musical wunderkind and we can't wait to hear Across The Borders in its entirety.
The newest act on our lineup performs a dreamy set of indie-pop from the KEX Hostel in Reykjavik.