With her musical talent already being compared to the likes of legendary folk artists Nick Drake and Fairport Convention, it’s no surprise that upon hearing her “rare, poetic voice” English singer-songwriter Piers Faccini immediately took 21-year-old Jenny Lysander under his wing. The Scandinavian songbird recorded her debut album in Faccini’s studio in the rural Cevennes region of southern France. Away from the distractions of metropolitan life, the countryside offered the perfect stillness over which Lysander’s ethereal, delicate songs can really be heard.
Lysander immediately forges a connection between our aural perception and visual imagination with opening track A Painter’s Brush; a sensory relationship and embrace that is woven through the entire album. The gentle arpeggiated guitar, haunting voice and whimsical woodwinds capture a scarce landscape of whites and blues. Giving Thanks is a delightful, modal track that daintily waltzes into Dancing On The Edge, a song that truly lays bare Lysander’s remarkable voice, whose vibrato is at times reminiscent of legendary Irish singer Dolores O’Rioirdan.
Title track Northern Folk is composed around another traditional mode, whose beautiful instrumentation would be as much at home in the dramatic landscapes of the Scottish highlands as in the seemingly endless winters of Northern Europe. The accompanying male voice offers additional warmth to the advice that we “turn our eyes towards the morning sun”. Preceding the stirring dawn of Northern Folk is dreamy lullaby Blackbird, whose simple arrangement buoys some of the album’s most vibrant poetry.
Sentimental track Lavender Philosophy is as quaint as the pastoral scenes painted by Beatrix Potter in her famous Peter Rabbit. The slightly out of tune piano, like other moments of pitchiness throughout the album, generates a comforting and sincere nostalgia, while Lysander invites weeping ghosts to accompany her on the shadowy, atmospheric Mind Me.
Jenny Lysander’s music paradoxically paints vivid pictures of familiar, timeless scenery, whilst possessing an eerie otherworldliness. Her debut album is a confident example of contemporary folk; evocative, intimate, ethereal and exquisite.