Katja & Jani Stefanovic – I Never Knew


I Never Knew_StevanovicTo be very clear, even though this album features Jani Stefanovic (Miseration, Divine Fire), it is not a metal album and really the cover, featuring his wife Katja tells much of the story behind the album. This is an album of praise, prayer, and worship songs sung by Katja. While not metal, punk, or hardcore in the traditional sense, this album carries a lot of the emotion and heartfelt lyrics found in those genres and is worth a listen when you’re looking for something beautiful with a lot of impact.

I Never Knew is the second album of praise and worship songs by Katja Stefanovic (ex-Random Eyes) with the first one, Father, being released in 2010. What is somewhat unique in her songs is that many feature songs of God speaking to us, encouraging us, letting us know how much we mean to Him. As Katja says,

Songs where God speaks to me/us are so valuable to me, because they are words that God has spoken into my heart. Every time when I get a song from the Father, my heart melts, because I get to understand in a deeper way how real His love is for me. God is passionate – filled with overflowing love that He wants to lavish on His children. He is a true Father that admires you and me. He has more words of love for us than there is sand, so I think that He will never stop singing songs for me!”

The album opens with “Forever Safe”, which in style and structure is probably the closest to what I would think of in terms of praise and worship songs. A quiet opening, building into an almost crescendo with a cheery and bouncy bridge and chorus section. Throughout the album, Katja’s voice is the dominant part of the mix and rightly so as she does have a beautiful, angelic voice. In my limited experience listening to praise and worship albums, I’ve found that the lead vocals often end up blending completely into the backing vocals or are nearly drowned out by the music, but that is not the case with this album. I would also commend her for showing some restraint and still being able to convey strong emotion in the songs. The songs and the emotion in the songs become the focal point, not the orchestral arrangements, not even her beautiful voice.

After my first listen all the way through the cd, I was reminded of the Rich Mullins’ Jesus Record. For those who aren’t familiar with that record, Rich Mullins found an old abandoned church and recorded the demos with just him and his guitar and sadly he passed away before the songs could be properly recorded. His friends, literally an all-star cast of Christian artists, went into the studio and recorded the songs and both the demo and studio versions were packaged together and released. To make a long story short, my first impression was that this album was primarily just Katja sitting at a piano pouring out her heart to God. When I went back to listen more, I realized that only the song “I’m Lost Without You” has just Katja and piano. What one can notice though is that the dominant parts of the mix throughout the album are Katja’s voice and the solitary piano and they work so well together. Yes, there are orchestral parts and even a brief subdued guitar solo by Jani (presumably) in one song, but even that is in a supporting role.

The title track “I Never Knew” talks about realizing or learning about how much God loves each of us and is actually a duet with Katja and Jani taking the roles of a woman and man coming to this realization in separate verses. As described earlier the song starts out with just Katja’s voice and piano, then switches to Jani’s voice then continues to build into its peak with the guitar solo, before ending again with just Katja and the piano. This simple and yet somehow elegant mix of voice and piano is what really sets this release apart from other albums in this genre. To me, it feels very intimate and very real, like you are almost sitting in the room with Katja pouring her heart out at the piano.

Rating: 10/10

Written by John Jackson

1. Forever Safe
2. In You My Soul Rests
3. I’m Lost Without You
4. I Never Knew
5. Dance With Me
6. Peaceful Haven
7. I Will Always Be The Same
8. Passionate God

Band Members:
Katja Stefanovic – Vocals and Piano
Jani Stefanovic – Acoustic & Electric guitars, Orchestral Arrangements and Additional Programming

Record Label: Independent, 2012

Katja Rimpeläinen – Father [2010] [Review]
Katja & Jani Stefanovic – I Never Knew [2012]

Weblinks: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Reverbnation

Buy the album here:
 First Paradox 
 Nordic Mission

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