You can be forgiven if the name Thomas Dybdahl doesn’t ring any bells.
Thanks to a lack of distribution, the singer-songwriter has eluded attention on the North American continent for years, though he has been steadily churning out albums for nearly a decade in his native Norway. Dybdahl may have the misfortune of being labeled a troubadour—a title sure to provoke some unwarranted judgment. But the Norwegian, in fact, shares a greater musical kinship with space-oddity Annette Peacock than he does with Nick Drake (of whom he is often touted as Norway’s answer to). While firmly rooted in folk, the singer takes a jazzier approach in his playing, strumming locomotive circles on a creaky, rustic guitar while exploring the more heavenly reaches of pop, cutting swaths through the spacey textures of moody keyboard swells and shuffling percussion. Over the 14 tracks of his proper North American debut, Songs (an album that samples from his five previous European releases), Dybdahl works some impressive magic alone with his sensuously wine-soaked voice, which occupies a slim musical space that is at once eerie as it is sexy.