sun 14/07/2024

CD: Jenny Lysander - Northern Folk | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Jenny Lysander - Northern Folk

CD: Jenny Lysander - Northern Folk

Promising young Swedish songwriter reinvents pastoral folk

Jenny Lysander: sparse arrangements and ageless vocals

There’s a certain sound - one that I’d describe as “pastoral folk”, without ever being certain of what that means - that has always struck me as quintessentially English. Jenny Lysander’s debut album is one that ticks many of those boxes: sparse arrangements, ageless vocals, even a song called “Lavender Philosophy”, which is about as pastoral as it gets without involving grazing animals.

To immerse oneself, dreamily, in Northern Folk is to feel as you did the first time you heard Laura Marling and wonder how one so young could create something so wise and so timeless (at 21, Lysander is just a little older than Marling was when she released her debut). And yet Lysander takes her inspiration from her native Stockholm, making her about as quintessentially English as I am.

But I suppose that when your songs possess a warmth and simplicity that precludes their anchoring in any particular time, it makes sense not to anchor them in any particular place either. Take “Blackbird”, for example, the current single and one of the richest tracks from the album, with poetic lyrics and pitch-perfect, bell-clear acoustic guitar. Together they create a simple, vivid scene but it’s one that could be set anywhere: anywhere where the springs are cold, and the morning light is just so. Even “Jag Målade Fan På Väggen” - the only track sung in Lysander’s native Swedish against a simple, stately melody - is evocative enough without needing to know what the words mean.

The album was recorded and produced by fellow folk musician Piers Faccini who, legend has it, discovered Lysander’s talents when she posted a cover of one of his songs on YouTube. Perhaps that’s why the whole album feels like a secret: whispered, intimate and important. But then “Mind Me” hits towards the end of the album, bringing with it layers of atmospheric backing vocals over haunted, almost medieval guitars and courtly percussion, and the secret is out. And the world is all the better for it.

Overleaf: watch the animated "Blackbird" video

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