“I see you / is that just me? / mirroring,” sings Johanne Swanson, marveling at her own life from afar, on the title track from her latest, Mirroring. Every word drawn out over swelling guitars, the drums bounce along, as she circles on feeling lost in a relationship. As a songwriter and producer, Swanson – who performs as Yohuna - has always maintained a masterful ability to distill chaos into calm; to contemplate the more challenging and messy matters of heart and mind with a self-assured deadpan stare and pointed stillness. Here, she continues in that direction, but with some of her most sweeping arrangements to date, adding cello riffs that sing like a grounding human voice, harp and trombone, drums that push her loudest hooks yet forward. And unlike her previous synth-center work, Mirroring was written entirely on guitar.
For Swanson, who performs as Yohuna, the process of building a record often involves meditating on a self-coined mantra of sorts. Mirroring follows her debut, 2016’s Patientness, an ode to patience, endurance, and duality. Mirroring is similarly a vehicle for processing, for reflection on how relationships can refract our sense of self; on the confused boundaries that allow someone else’s life to become your own; on untangling yourself from that. There are inquiries into the process of seeing, of being seen, of what someone else chooses not to see.