Susanna - Triangle

by Jeff Penczak Rating:9 Release Date:2016-04-22

The award-winning Norwegian songbird Susanna Wallumrød has been raising the hair on the back of my neck for several years now, variously fronting the Ensemble neoN, The Magical Orchestra (with Morton Qvenild), collaborating with fellow Norwegian singer Jenny Hval, and through heart melting solo releases like this, her sixth overall and second on her own label. Here we have a full 70 minutes of more experimental sounds and voices, including the Baroque minimalism of opener ‘Holy/Sacred’, the intimate spinetingler ‘We Don’t Belong’ and the emotionally theatrical ‘Fear and Terror’ and ‘In Need Of A Shepherd’, both of which may be the closest we’ve gotten to the spirit of Dory Previn since the legendary lady of song left us four years ago.

Accompanied by classically-tinged piano flourishes and her angelic choir of (occasionally) double-tracked voice, there are moments of spiritual ecstasy running through nearly every track, with hints of the seminal work of Kate Bush and Joni Mitchell’s jazzy Blue period (‘Texture Within’ and ‘Born Again’ are particularly revelatory) dropping in every now and then. Wallumrød also seamlessly switches between catchy, bubbly pop (‘Hole’), haunting, almost spiritual passages reminiscent of the ecclesiastical mysticism of a Hildegard von Bingen (‘Shepherd’), and songs that feel like they were composed for little children (‘Under Water’), songs that seem destined for the stage or screen. And then there’s the other side of the coin – those WTF experimental noises like ‘This Phenomena’ which sounds like she’s blowing raspberries through a tuba!

For someone who’s released some of the most radical reinterpretations and stunning cover songs of the past decade (Leonard Cohen, Joy Division, Nick Drake, AC/DC, KISS, and Bob Dylan!), she displays her adept songwriting skills throughout this set of nearly two dozen tunes that rarely hint at the record collection she pilfered for her Melody Mountain and Flower of Evil albums (although Sandy Denny and Nico do hover above some of the gems on display here).

Another essential purchase by one of our most cherished, yet criminally underappreciated singer songwriters.

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