sun 21/07/2024

Album: Susanne Sundfør - Blómi | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Susanne Sundfør - Blómi

Album: Susanne Sundfør - Blómi

Peerless Norwegian singer-songwriter considers family and legacy

Susanne Sundfør's 'Blómi': its cover a vintage photo of her with her grandfather

From Icelandic, blómi translates as “bloom” or “flower”. Other song titles from the new album by Norway's Susanne Sundfør also look Icelandic. Actually, it’s Old Norse, which informs modern Icelandic. Although one track is recited in German the lyrics elsewhere, as per her other albums, are in English. The linguist fluidity telegraphs Blómi is not necessarily straightforward.

The personal nature of the follow-up to 2017’s Music for People in Trouble is declared by its cover, a vintage photo of Sundfør with her grandfather, the academic, linguist and theologian Kjell Aartun. Blómi is dedicated to him and her young daughter. Pertinently, it's the first time she has appeared (photographically) on one of her album sleeves. 

While the signposts above demonstrate that Blómi considers – often obliquely – family and legacy, Sundfør’s sixth studio album has more than enough forthright tunesmith-ery to pull anyone in. “Alyosha” is so grand and so lovely a ballad it could be reinterpreted by Céline Dion (NB this is not a negative). The beautiful “Náttsǫngr” is cut from a similar cloth but its hymnal flow is destabilised by a left-turn into impressionistic wordless vocalisation. The title track’s jazziness is along the Judee Sill lines. “Fare Thee Well” nods gospel-wards. “Leikara Ljóð” is more overtly in a gospel vein.

Nonetheless, Blómi evidently isn’t about its individual tracks. It is cohesive, an album as such. Rather than Sundfor’s, the voice of holistic therapist and musician Eline Vistven begins and ends the album – a topping and tailing sealing the album into its own world. Scattered lyrics say “nobody told you that the ladies in black will wear white again” – similar to lines from her 2012 album The Silicone Veil – “one by one we fall from grace” and “this is my final call for you give me shock treatment”. Lessons drawn from experience are being offered.

Overall, Sundfør appears to be interpreting her world as it is now. As with each of her albums, the multi-layered Blómi is unlike anything she has done before. Equally, it is yet another landmark album from this resolutely peerless, singular artist.

@MrKieronTyler

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