Review: Jenny Lysander – Northern Folk

Accurately reflecting place through music is no mean feat, but 21-year-old Scandinavian folk artist Jenny Lysander has perfected it. Her debut album Northern Folk, released on April 27th, manages to paint exquisite pictures of Nordic scenery in twelve concise tracks. Seeming lyrically and vocally far beyond her twenty one years, the Swedish folk artist has created a work of art.

Opening track ‘A Painter’s Brush’ wastes no time in setting up the stunning landscape which continues to be a crucial running theme throughout the album. The track is sparse, perfectly conjuring up images of harsh snow and long winters. When beginning to border on too frosty, a warming woodwind section lightens the tone and restores balance.

The album contains some beautifully simple tracks; ‘Giving Thanks’ and ‘Blackbird’ being among the few which would make ideal lullabies to lilt someone to sleep. Standout tracks ‘Dancing on the Edge’ and ‘Northern Folk’ hark back to more traditional folk songs, and wouldn’t sound out of place accompanying a period drama.

Jenny’s impressive vocal range is obvious in ‘Under The Willow Tree’; the accompanying male vocals balance the melody, with both voices exuding fragility yet still retaining a sense of self-assurance. In the atmospheric ‘Mind Me’, Jenny’s stunning vibrato is showcased, clearly proving she is not talented solely in song-writing.

Northern Folk lays bare the sparse and often unforgiving landscape of Swedish countryside, yet balances this with the welcome warmth of woodwind and acoustic guitar. The song titles alone are enough to mesmerise, painting pictures of boats, willow trees, blackbirds and lavender. Comparisons to Laura Marling are easily drawn here: Jenny’s voice is remarkably similar in that it is withdrawn and delicate, yet simultaneously poised and well-articulated. There is a sense throughout that Jenny is sticking with what she feels most confident doing, as the tracks begin to somewhat blend in to one as the album progresses. Having said this, Northern Folk is a remarkably confident debut album, and hopefully a sign of things to come from Jenny Lysander.

Mollie Carberry

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