Music

Amandine: This Is Where Our Hearts Collide

David Bernard

Swedish roots-folkers are steeped decidedly in Americana. I guarantee that a taste test will surprise you.


Amandine

This Is Where Our Hearts Collide

Label: Fat Cat
US Release Date: 2005-11-15
UK Release Date: 2005-11-11
Amazon affiliate
Amazon
iTunes

You can dress up a folk song in any number of ways, but it's still just a folk song. Put it in a tuxedo with tails and a top hat. Tighten a flashy cummerbund around its waist. You can even send it to a Nordic country. That's not saying that a folk song in a tuxedo can't be a sophisticated, welcome entity. Nor is that saying that some Nordic folk songs aren't better than American folk songs. But sometimes even the best dressed folk songs, when they are all dressed alike, become exactly like a sea of men all wearing the same black tuxedo. They may be attractive, but you'd be goddamned if you can tell them apart.

Amandine, a Swedish band, have dressed folk songs and waltzes in all varieties of fancy clothes. They've surrounded them with accordions and strings and slowed them to plodding paces, all in an attempt to create more profound music. What they come up with is often quite affecting. The accomplished musicianship and honest production give a raw feel to the music. The minor downfall is the similarity between songs and song lyrics. Most involve nature images of wingéd creatures and the dissolving of human relationships.

Even with the repetition, this is undoubtedly a very good looking, good sounding, and good smelling CD. (Can anyone else never get enough of the fresh scent of a jewel case insert?) The artwork is beautiful and classic. Even the UPC, which on many major labels has become a giant ad for anti-piracy campaigns, is integrated seamlessly into the artwork. The music ain't so bad, either.

"For All the Marbles" shows how strong a simple song can sound when infused with a heartbroken violin and accordion. The dissonant harmonies and spare piano only add to a sound that is amazingly complex and concurrently spare. The lyrics support these sweet, melancholy songs. The protagonist in "Halo" says, "I would like us to sway / Slow dancing further away / From this place". One can call foul for repeating the same idea on a later song, entitled "Sway", dedicated entirely to a sweet, swaying, dancing moment, but that's a minor point. Amandine's strength is the ability to add extra instruments (strings here, brass there) yet maintain the sparse feeling of a folk song.

Music can be sad and/or depressing, and the musicians performing such music can display the corresponding emotion, but singer Olof Gildöf is supposed to be sincere but he often merely sounds . . . bored. Even subdued emotions can be emoted in interesting or exciting ways. At points, I wished that he would just sing. Not strain, not emote. Just sing.

One interesting choice for the band is the frequent use of clean-toned electric guitars instead of acoustic guitars. When the music calls for increased aggression in the strumming, the amps lightly distort; whereas an acoustic guitar would simply become a little louder. This tactic gives many of the songs a jagged edge where they would normally be pristine. It works quite well.

Fans of slow, sad roots music will love this CD. And the admiration is deserved. This is better-than-average desolate music, equally adept at mimicking the Swedish countryside or the barren plains of the American Midwest. If you don't mind hearing the same song twice (or three or four times), then this might be perfect for you. After all, it's the same good song over and over.

7

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less
3

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less
9

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image