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Saturday, 15 March 2014

Annlaug – November

Is the world ready for a Scandinavian version of PJ Harvey? Scando folk music is a harsh, stark and bitter sweet experience at the best of times, but remove the jaunty fiddling aspect and things are looking very bleak indeed. Admittedly, she’s got a long way to go before she scales the dirgy heights of her heroine, but this is still a humourless and joyless album that could do with a little oomph!

I know nothing about Annlaug. Her wikipaedia entry is in Norwegian I think, but she’s a young, attractive singer, probably form Oslo. She has a beautiful, soulful voice with a distinctive wavering quality when she goes for the big notes. She should have the world at her feet, but in Scandinavian folk it’s the norm to aim for the starkest, least commercial sound in the world, then add some fiddles. Annlaug make the starkest, least commercial music in the world but forgoes the fiddles. And hence the dirge-like quality of the album.

That’s not to say it’s as harsh and cloying on the ear as a PJ offering, but it’s relentless in its low key Scandinavian murmurings and occasional waling. The only ray of hope is the moderately jaunty charm of the opening song ‘Ord Som Fell’; a quirk-some, lilting lullaby that suckers you into believing the rest of the album will follow in a similar vein. It’s a great track and worth the price of the LP on it’s own, which is a good job really.

There’s a lot of promise here, but next time; keep the stark beauty, the crystal vocals and the lack of compromise, but add a little sparkle. A jaunty fiddle, the honk of some Scandinavian bagpipes made from reindeer intestines or even the slight hint of a melody. Definitely one to watch for the future, but only time will tell if she is ultimately lured to the dark side by the queen of dirge. Let’s hope not.

 Please note this song is not on the album.

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