Sunday, December 2, 2012

In review--The Eye of Oslo

Jørn Simen Ǿverli
Folk songs from Oslo
Kirkelig Kulterveksted

While many cities boast a monument at their center, a forested region marks Oslo’s center both geographically and for the recreational purposes.  This scenario ties into Norwegian folksongs from Oslo.  The press notes cite, “Folk songs from Oslo do not come easily to mind, even though they exist...”  Stretching the boundaries of folksongs from ones with anonymous authors of songs past down for several generations to folk songs composed by known artists, but also passed down, folksinger Jørn Simen Ǿverli joins Ǿyonn Groven Myhren (vocals on two tracks, 15 & 16), Frode Haltli (accordion) and Stian Cartensen (accordion, flute, banjo steel guitar, guitar...) on the accordion-centered Folk songs from Oslo.

The songs on the CD enchant and remind me of French bals-musette sung to the Norwegian language.  The jaunty accordion set to polka and waltz melodies sound more cabaret than folkloric.  Perhaps, this is because I have little go on besides the press notes which are the only text in English.  I would have loved to have seen English translations of the lyrics and English titles for the 20 tracks that appear on the CD, I was only given a handful.  The titles I do have include two polkas, Logger Song and The Girl from Sørkedalen.  Also we have the bouncy The Marching Competition and the ambient Moon Song.  My favorite songs are Varnise, a haunting ballad with Groven Myhren on vocals and the first three tracks. Groven Myhren reminds me of the Swedish folksinger Emma Härdelin (Triakel).  Perhaps the folksongs have an urban history, yet, I can see people of the forest pulling these songs out of a hat and singing them late into the night.  Bring on the accordion.

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