Tuesday, July 6, 2010

In review--Norwegian Wood

Sondre Bratland and Annbjorg Lien
Kirkelig Kultureverksted

Two of Norway’s biggest musical talent, singer/balladeer Sondre Bratland and hardanger fiddler Annbjorg Lien combine their talents on Everywhere. The throaty laments of the fiddle frame Bratland’s baritone voice on this wintry album.

“For a number of years the duo of Sondre Bratland and Annbjorg Lien has been performing concerts in Norwegian churches. This CD Everywhere presents their fully ripened versions of Norwegian religious folk songs.” (Liner notes). The recording features lively and somber songs.

The Norwegian folk elements are most evident on the lilting melodies sung in Norwegian and the folk fiddling that rivals American bluegrass with its twang and twists. Both Bratland and Lien have produced several critically-acclaimed albums over the decades, though Lien is decades younger than Bratland who is a true veteran of Norwegian folk and sacred music. Lien performed with her own band for several years and I still have her Alien Live album which was released ten years ago in North American on the Northside label.

Both of these musicians know how to milk every note and to draw colors from an emotional palette. The timbres of the fiddle and Bratland’s vocals mesh well together with the fiddle playing in a singing style. Lien also lends her vocal skills on 2 of the tracks (tracks 4 and 12 for instance) joining Bratland in a duet. This nice gem would feel more at home on a blustery autumn or winter day, than it does on a bright summer morning. It’s one of those recordings that beg for hearth and home, family and comfort. And for fans of Scandinavian folk music, it’s a must for the collection. Gorgeous!


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