Tag Archives: Inga Liljeström

Inga Liljeström – Black Crow Jane

June is the first, official month of winter in Australia, but it’s been damn cold at night for quite a number of weeks. While I’m not yet at the stage where I need to re-think my negative position on the Snuggie, hearing about the release of a new album by Inga Liljeström was welcome news indeed – I’ll take her smouldering ember-like voice to warm my nights over a blanket with sleeves any time.

I’m sure everyone has felt that mix of excitement and reserve when a favoured artist releases something new, particularly when – after three years of keeping record – one of their previous albums remains the most played out of my entire collection. Elk is a breathlessly good album, pretty much perfectly capturing in sound the fire and ice sensation of love, desire, intimacy and everything in between.

By comparison, it’s fair to say that Black Crow Jane is a little older, wiser and more incisive than any of its predecessors. It’s also more resolved, even if at times the subject matter is slightly less so, and perhaps surprisingly, it doesn’t have the slightest hint of becoming jaded in the process. Love is still sacred in this world; and if Elk was about moments that sear the heart, Black Crow Jane shows that those experiences can make if fierce, but don’t stop it from having the capacity to remain quietly and beautifully vulnerable at times.

Jazz and blues were always a noticable undercurrent to Inga’s unique, film noir blend of trip-hop, rock and folk; whereas before they highlighted moments of yearning, mourning and wonder, on this album it’s soulful, sultry and sharply seductive. The sheer and intimate nature of previous work made albums like Elk incredibly bold, despite their vulnerability. This album is no less intimate or bold, but there’s a definite shift in where and how such things are shown. This time around, sound-wise, the comparisons to both Björk and PJ Harvey (which is not uncommon when it comes to talking about any strong female artist, particularly if their work contains the slightest hint of electronica and/or rock) are not far off the mark; Black Crow Jane has elements akin to the brash, bluesy-rock honesty of Harvey, as well as the playful, curious and occasionally delicately blissful charm of Björk, but (of course) is unmistakably Inga Liljeström.

The entire album can be streamed online via SoundCloud, and purchased in Australia via Groovescooter. It’s also available from France’s Emergence Music, with Euro distribution.

….

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Things To Take With You On Your Holidays

My second-to-last order of business before the 25th with a quick couple of things I wanted to mention while I pack my bags and head out for a beach holiday over Christmas (in which circumstances equals: chance to stare at the sea intermittently while I work on a few things to bring back). Along with a few other things I’ll be talking about soon, you can be sure I’m taking the following along with me…

 

First up is the reissue of Urchin by Inga Liljeström. This album has been on my wish list for quite a long time (we’re talking years), so I was thrilled to discover Groovescooter have recently released a special edition with bonus tracks. I haven’t yet heard most of the tracks on this album, but I adore Elk in some ways I can’t speak about without the post being marked as containing adult content.  You can check Urchin out here. (I honestly don’t know if Groovescooter ship internationally, but it can’t hurt to ask if you like what you hear). For just one of the reasons why Inga is one of very few female artists that can get me all quiver-y, take a listen to All Of This from the album Elk).

 

Now on to the  live EP by Her Name Is Calla, recently released via Bandcamp. It’s no secret how much I like this band, and I would dearly love to see them live one day. In the absence of that opportunity, however, this is certainly the next best thing. The EP contains three tracks from the set they played at Denovali’s Swingfest back in October, and I can only guess at the magic the audience would have been witness to after listening to the half-hour+ they’ve made available here.

 

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Protected: Just Another One of ‘Those’ Days

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Bird Songs

Favourite Songs About Birds
(which are really about love)

Birds have a fairly long symbolic history. They are hunters, seekers and scavengers, lovers, harbingers/omens (both good and bad), guardians and sages. They are symbols for the struggle to freedom, have been admired, worshipped, feared….and eaten….for centuries.

Considering all that we take them to represent, it’s no real surprise that they crop up frequently in art – audio, visual and probably just about any other medium you can think of.  So, with that in mind I’ve compiled a quick list of some of my favourite songs that have reflected upon life or love, using the image and/or theme of birds.

New Birds by Arab Strap
From the album Philophobia, the song is one chapter of a 13-track story exploring sex and love – the suburban side of relationships rather than your typical epic tragedies or grand declarations. New Birds tells the story of seeing an old love again for the first time in years, the awkwardness, the curiosity and then the temptation of opportunity (even though both have ‘new birds’ – ie are in relationships with other people).

Favourite lyrics:
“…you can’t remember how she kissed and now you’ve got the chance to find out. But you have to remember there’s this other kiss. She’s at home wondering where you are and what you’re doing. And you worked hard on this kiss and you know it inside out, it’s as much yours as it is hers.”

Phoenix by Inga Liljestrom
From one of my all-time favourite albums – Elk, which I have reviewed here previously – Phoenix is an absolute stunner. Whoever Inga’s muse was for this album must have had a pretty special kind of magic.

Favourite lyrics:
“I trace the places
you have been in me
come my love
only you can thaw this ice in me
now”

Free Bird by Lynyrd Skynyrd
No such list could possibly exist without this song. The lyrics are beautifully simple, a little bit sad, and maybe even a bit of salt to the wound for anyone who’s ever been told “it’s not you, it’s me.”

Favourite lyrics:
“If I leave here tomorrow
will you still remember me?”

Early Bird by The Frames
I’m a really big fan of this song at the moment – it’s exactly the kind of song music was created for. That’s it!

Favourite lyrics:
Will not rush it, will enjoy it
Will not touch it, will rejoice it

Sing, Little Birdie by Shearwater
One of my favourite songs – it’s such a beautifully sweet and simple little bird-song. (Bonus double points for the band name, too, being a bird and all). I play this song often, and think very fondly about… things.

Favourite lyrics:
Hey, little birdie, catching my eye
Sing little sweet things into this mind
And tug at my darker side

Fly to the bed where we are confined
Combing the cancers out of our lives
And harness your song with mine
And whose tongue gave you life but mine

Which is actually the entire song…

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Not Just in the Interest of Public Awareness

It’s fair to say that I’m rather serving my own interests, too. Like most people, I do like to wax lyrical about the things I’m passionate about. As is obvious, one of those things is music, so I’m going to talk a little about a few artists there’s a good chance you haven’t heard of, but are more than worth the time to take a listen to (in my wholly subjective opinion). In this post, I’ve featured a few artists that I believe  if you like one, there’s a good chance you’ll like the others. I issue that with a grain of salt – it’s not an absolute, obviously. If I make similar posts in the future, I’ll continue to pick artists with the same intention. Oh, and I’m not going to delve into respective biographies, either, just describe the music as best I can.

Inga Liljeström

inga-liljestrom-elk

I feel compelled to start with an Australian artist (funny, that). Occasionally compared to artists such as Portishead and Goldfrapp, it’s a comparison that is only fair in the sense that there are elements to Inga’s music that come from the same genre those artists commonly fall into. She has released four albums to date, but my pick of the bunch is the sublime album Elk. I fell in love with it on first listen, which is considerably an easy thing to do when the album itself is full to overflowing with themes of love and constant desire. Overlaying dreamy, ambient electronic, jazzy sounds with truly poetic lyrics that speak of “unspeakable” things, and delivering it all with a unique, husky voice, makes for a deeply intimate album of rare and stunning beauty. We’re taken on a journey through icy landscapes, warmed with images of skin against skin and feel helpless to the irresistable pull of a desire that is utterly tangible. It all sounds rather voyeuristic, doesn’t it? The amazing thing is, this album never makes you feel like a peeping tom, it’s so immersive that the experience becomes your own and all you want to do is share it with someone else.

 

Lightning Dust

lightning-dust-self-titled

Black Mountain members Amber Webber and Joshua Wells released this little gem in 2007. Lightning Dust takes elements of the waltz, country music and carnival-esqe themes to create something that almost defies comparison. Imagine giving Mazzy Star a few hits of a psychedelic drug, whereupon they suddenly become circus performers, and you might have some idea of the sound you’re likely to wind up with. That’s not to say Lightning Dust is ‘freaky’, or frenetic, the album maintains quite a relaxed, though haunting, atmosphere. Instrumentation is rich – even if, at times, sparse – and considerably ethereal. The expertly controlled vibrato of  Amber’s vocals match the dream-like quality of the music perfectly, and you will most likely swoon with/for her – when she sings “we’ll jump in the lava, it’ll melt us together” you’ll be ready to take that leap further into the incredible and bizarre world Lightning Dust create.

 

Niobe

niobe-white-hats1

German artist Niobe (aka Yvonne Cornelius) delivers a calm and graceful sound that is at once enchanting. Often classified as experimental electronica, her album – White Hats – contains decidedly vintage overtones (Moon River would not feel out of place here), which makes it perfectly in keeping with the ‘other-worldly’ sounds of the previous two artists. She croons her unusual lyrics in an almost 20’s jazz/blues bar style, which lends her voice, at least, to comparisons with the likes of Chan Marshall (Cat Power) and Beth Orton. Don’t be fooled, however, by all of the above – the sound is completely unique and certainly not outdated. There is, in fact, a perennial quality to albums that can successfully mix a blend of old and new sounds/techniques to create something as intriguingly beautiful as White Hats.

 

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