Swedish singer-songwriter Linn Öberg’s debut album continues the tradition of Scandinavian musicians combining northern melancholy with glorious joy, despite those infamously frigid temperatures.
The title track opener introduces her voice to the audience as an echoey mashup of Grace Jones’ menace, The Cranberries’ frontman Dolores O’Riordan’s Irish inflections and Enya’s otherworldliness. Comparisons to Sinead O’Connor- an act that Öberg has opened for in concert- are inevitable with that defiant sneer and those belts providing a suitable counterpoint to the track’s warm, plaintive feel.
Rough Hewn might talk about ‘los(ing) overselves’, but its jaunty piano bounce and hesitant atmopshere suggests it doesn’t quite know where to go.
Fortunately, The Carrier is breathy, effortlessly floating, waltzy folk that can barely contains its elation. It’s a freeing track, and thanks to its ‘oh oh oh’ chorus, is custom-made from frolicking in the hills. It’s no wonder that this was a single. The same can be said for Vacant Days, which despite (or because of) its obscenities, soars in tempo and momentum and flies away into the distance. Freediver Radio also evokes a sense of freedom like a long road trip through the country, showcasing more of Öberg’s quirky vocals and desire to take the plunge before grinding everything to a halt as she mutters unexpectedly ‘now I’m ruined’. As if it were the aftermath, From The Wanting has more of Öberg’s usual guitar-plucking style, haunting in its nocturnal vibe as ghostly harmonies in the bridge sweep away the light.
The tribute to the Norwegian city of Bergen (In Your Honor) is heavy both on the mellotrons and on warmth, conveying a sense of sunny, Scandinavian solidarity. My Life’s Rhyme closes the album on a spiritual, almost angelic note, with packed vocal harmonies passing over listeners over like a revelation, hooking them in through repetition of the title and keyboards that threaten to overwhelm.
Öberg’s first full-length is a whimsical, folksy collection that startles in places and loses direction in others. However, it unleashes an infectious sense of freedom to listeners at its finest.