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Albums of the Year 2021: Frida Hyvönen - Dream Of Independence | reviews, news & interviews

Albums of the Year 2021: Frida Hyvönen - Dream Of Independence

Albums of the Year 2021: Frida Hyvönen - Dream Of Independence

An exceptional Swedish release and the year's other finest albums

Frida Hyvönen's 'Dream Of Independence': an uncomfortable listen

Frida Hyvönen’s UK profile isn’t as high as it is in her home country Sweden. Over here, what she gets up to is less apparent than the activities of some of her more heavily marketed fellow Swedes. Hence Dream Of Independence coming as a surprise, and the choice of it as the lead here.

Dream Of Independence is instantly accessible and tune-packed, with its direct lyrics given added force by Hyvönen’s blunt delivery. A few specific tracks were noted when it was reviewed in March but any of the others are similarly emblematic of the album’s excellence. “Head of the Family” describes an intra-relationship schism so openly that what could be irritatingly solipsistic becomes high drama. It’s an uncomfortable listen, helped towards this end by its melodic evocation of Seventies singer-songwriters of the highest order. Dory Previn at her most tart comes to mind while “Head of the Family” unfolds. Elsewhere, during “Painter,” Hyvönen declares “I am really a painter, not a songwriter.” Well, the album is a collection of songs but, yes, it is more. As the March review observed, the exceptional Dream Of Independence is “akin to a refraction of Karl Ove Knausgård’s autobiographical writing.”

Of course, there are other Albums of the Year. Low’s powerful Hey What could become what history will view as their best album. Field Music’s reflective Flat White Moon was a treat, as was Marissa Nadler’s erudite suite of song-stories The Path Of The Clouds. Teenage Fanclub‎ had a seemingly disruptive line-up change, but the adroit Endless Arcade didn’t suggest there had been hiccups. Mega Bog’s Life, And Another was another idiosyncratic missive from Erin Birgy, while Du Blonde’s self-exposing Homecoming was a thrilling if disconcerting ride. And Norway’s jazz individualist Hedvig Mollestad produced two inspired winners: Tempest and, with her trio, Ding Dong, You're Dead. How can there ever be one Album of the Year?

Two More Essential Albums from 2021

Low - Hey What

Field Music - Flat White Moon

Musical Experience of the Year

Hedvig Mollestad, National Jazz Scene, Oslo, 28 November 2021

Track of the Year

Donovan – “I am the Shaman”


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