[29 May 2007]
Astrid Swan is a one-woman pop project from Finalnd, and not in the Mariah Carey way. Poverina puts piano-driven pop, a love of British and American music (her recent activity includes covering the Killers’ “When You Were Young”), and a clearly stated goal to steer clear from the current stereotype that Finland is a heavy metal haven to the forefront, while her sultry swoon shares a close tie with female songstresses like Kate Bush, Tori Amos and PJ Harvey. Yet her songwriting bears closer resemblance to Elliott Smith, an influence on her, drifting poetically through a string of innocuous metaphors—the effervescent “Life in a Container” has her comparing herself to a “low-fat” packed lunch, and has, without doubt, the coolest mandobanjo riff ever. The cover art says it all: this is an organic collection of very much pop tunes that express themselves through pianos, flutes, strings, and other weird, some might say over-the-top combinations (“Rock n Roll Blonde” features no less than a double bass, viola, cello, trombone, euphonium, French horn and flugelhorn). If there is a fault with it, it’s that Swan approaches her singing with a certain lack of emotion, which can render a desperately sad track like “War” a little too joyous and indifferent. Still, as getting-away-from-the-norm, escapist fare, this certainly works.