10 May 2013

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Column | The Girls of Sweden #2

imageIn this age of futuristic sounds and innovative use of new technology in music, it’s maybe a surprise (or a given) that the acoustic and sometimes retro trend in music keeps growing stronger. Vinyl is making a comeback (a strong one); bands are emphasising their ability to play live; young bands cite influences that had their heyday before any of the members were born. This week, The Girls of Sweden looks at two Swedish acts, First Aid Kit and Marie Lalá who sound as though they ought to have been born in another era, even while remaining innovative and exceptionally good.

“A longing for something natural and raw”
First Aid Kit, composed of sisters Johanna and Klara Söderberg, followed a path to success that would have any artist blink in envy. Self-made, starting out by posting songs on the internet, and ending with singing for Patti Smith and Paul Simon when they received their Polar Music Prize in 2011 and 2012. Notable for their skilled harmony singing, the sisters recorded a tribute to Emmylou Harris that breathes nostalgia and would not have been out of place amongst the folk singers of the 1960′s, but is also uniquely their own style.

They themselves say people are “longing for something natural and raw” and credits their success to this longing. And perhaps that is, indeed, why people love them so much – along with cutting-edge sound developments and music that pushes the boundaries of the listener, comes nostalgia for the simpler sounds of yesteryear. Or perhaps it’s just that talent will out, no matter the era.

Writing through emotions

Trained acrobat, arborist, accordion player and circus artist (she worked with British circus company Incandescence), Marie Lalá came late to singing but as she herself put it in her most recent performance at Kägelbanan in Stockholm on April 19th, “The stage is my favorite place to be.” And whether she is climbing a rope or singing her heart out, it’s clear that the stage is where she ought to be. She cites Nina Simone in particular and also Anthony and the Johnsons as artists that have influenced her work, though she also says she doesn’t really have particular musical influences. Rather, her songs come from events and people and art that have a profound effect on her and fuel her songwriting.

Her music is rife with emotion, and the supporting band (with a stellar wind section, reminiscent of stage shows in the 1950′s and 60′s) backs her up admirably. Below is her new video, “Without You”, released on April 25th.

Marie’s sophomore effort “Surrender My Soul” is out on May 15th on Birds Will Sing For You Enterprises.

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