sat 13/07/2024

Album: Juni Habel - Carvings | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Juni Habel - Carvings

Album: Juni Habel - Carvings

Norwegian singer-songwriter’s second album stays firmly in the twilight

Juni Habel's 'Carvings': crepuscular

Carvings is recorded so it sounds as if Juni Habel is adjacent to the listener’s ear. The Norwegian singer-songwriter may as well be inches away. Such intimacy can be disconcerting, especially as Carvings evokes a reflective melancholy. Its eight crepuscular songs evoke twilight and wintertime, when introspection is never far.

Habel’s second album is the follow-up to summer 2021’s All Ears. That was a mood piece drawing from influences including Vashti Bunyan and Jessica Pratt. Carvings is less about the atmosphere created but more about the form of the song itself, and rising and falling cadences. Here, her acoustic guitar is complemented by strings, subtle eclectic guitar, equally unobtrusive bass guitar and barely audible drums. There are also odd banjo flurries and filigreed chimes from a piano. When extra body is needed, Habel’s murmured voice is double tracked.

The result is an album occupying a space within the folk-influenced sphere but there’s a jazziness too – especially on the gently swirling “When we Awake”. Think a very reductive take on Beverley and John Martyn’s “Auntie Aviator”. In contrast, the more sparse “Chicory” edges towards country in a Karen Dalton way with added colour brought by double-tracked vocal lines interweaving and juxtaposing with each other.

It feels ancient, although Carvings could have been crafted any time from the early Sixties onwards. Partly, this is to do with the restrained aural palette. It’s also a result of lack of anything intimating an immersion in music from after 1975 or so. None of which appears deliberate – this is just how it is with Juni Habel and her music. Listen by candlelight, preferably in a house constructed from timber. The one on the album’s cover will do fine.


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