Signe Tollefsen - Signe Tollefsen

by Nathan Fidler Rating:5.5 Release Date:2010-05-17

A singer songwriter of both American and Dutch descent, Signe Tollefsen has two different cultures to draw from and you can hear as much on her self-titled debut. The sub-genre thrown around for her sound is 'folk noir' and though her album artwork (cats and flowers in the morning sun) belies such intent, the music does certainly feel both folky and dark.

Most of her material is based around loss, bitterness and loneliness. She tells her tales of scorn and sadness over a range of tenderly plucked and thumped instruments such as dulcimers and a bendir. Generally her lyrics are flatfooted given the subject matter ("my lover, where did you go?") and they could use some more of the blindsiding bizarreness heard on 'Hooked' where she croons "you spit in my whiskey, you got me hooked". Her vocal range is impressive, going from twee folk to primal yelling, but she is at her best when she sings in hushed, lullaby tones as heard on 'You, Me & The Brewers'.

She may not have the immediate appeal of her contemporaries but the sound behind her slightly formulaic ideas is an acquired taste, one of mourning banjos and atmospheric sliding on steel guitars. If you stick with the album as a whole and don't mind the lyrical stumbling blocks then it has its rewards, like a glass of whiskey just before the sun goes down (hopefully without the spit in it though). Signe holds bright promise if she can prise herself away from the burned lover routine and embrace different emotional styles.

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