Katarina Pejak – Pearls On A String (ENG review)

Ruf records – Street date April 19th 2024
Rhythm 'n' Blues
Katarina Pejak - Pearls On A String (ENG review)

In the mailbox of Bayou Blue radio, there was a cardboard envelope bearing the emblem of Ruf Records. I opened it, revealing a sleeve that was far too flashy, as is often the case with European blues bands or singers. This didn’t encourage me to delve further, so I left the CD on the desk for a day or two. Eventually, I decided to give it a listen. I looked up the artist, someone I wasn’t familiar with, and found some of their previous albums. Frankly, they weren’t really my cup of tea. Nonetheless, I decided to give it a try. I placed the CD into the player and found myself smiling. Indeed, the production of this album was quite pleasant.
Memories flooded back to me of the sessions for Norah Jones’ early albums, when I was invited to listen to some tracks at the record company’s office in Paris long before the official release. Katarina Pejak seems to embody that same fresh energy reminiscent of Norah Jones’ early days, resulting in a very enjoyable album with particularly interesting musicians and a soulful/jazzy touch that I quite liked.

Undoubtedly, her move to Ruf Records has altered the style of her productions, but not only that. Her biography sheds light on her motivations: In January 2011, she began her studies at Berklee College of Music, where she was admitted with a scholarship. She graduated in May 2014 with a major in songwriting, and during her final semester, she received the Songwriting Achievement Award for her overall success within the department.

This is likely where one must seek the driving force behind this artist’s work and what allows her to stand out. For some artists, it takes time to digest what they’ve learned and to produce something truly interesting, and this seems to be the case here. The album was recorded in Poitiers, France, where Katarina currently resides, at Studio des Bruères (which has hosted excellent jazz artists such as Tony Paeleman and Sonia Cat-Berro). It was produced by Pejak herself along with her band: bassist Sylvain Didou, drummer Johan Barrer, and guitarist Boris Rosenfeld. Also appearing on the album are Californian guitarist Laura Chavez, saxophonist Dana Colley, and Serbian singer Ana Protulipac.

Personally, I prefer to consider this album as her first, even though it’s her fourth. Here, Katarina Pejak demonstrates a beautiful mastery of her art surrounded by a talented team of artists, putting into practice what she learned at Berklee College of Music and offering a perfectly credible and highly personal rendition of Pink Floyd’s “Money.” This ability is the mark of a great artist, and it makes me excited because if she continues on this path, fully asserting all the creative elements within her, we may very well witness the emergence of an essential artist in the coming years, one who could easily become internationally renowned.
Clearly, whenever she steps out of the confines of blues, she becomes most interesting, and that’s why we classify this album as a “favorite.”

Thierry De Clemensat
USA correspondent – Paris-Move and ABS magazine
Editor in chief Bayou Blue Radio, Bayou Blue News

PARIS-MOVE, March 31st 2024


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