When you press play on a Susanne Sundfor track, one half of you anticipates the full ‘Wuthering Heights‘ of unfettered electronica to unfurl its thrashing tentacles amidst a frantic storm of flashing strobes. Your other half calmly waits to be served up a morsel of one of the Norwegian’s more graceful vintages; a subdued acoustic delicacy with a zephyr light caress.
What you don’t auto-expect from the Queen of Norway is a full blown cajun-cowboy number replete with more slide than Mississippi mud. A folksy kind of track that would be more at home nestling in the ancestral black mountain home of Anne Lise Frøkedal.
But that’s just what the multi-award winning singer/songwriter has just gifted her fans, in the shape of 4-D country ballad ‘Reincarnation’. An evocative poem shrouded in the ethereal, at first it’s grounded in dancing shadows, warmed by flickering embers of instrumentation. Then after an intense build, it’s swept gloriously upwards by desert winds to heights where it soars astride the wings of an eagle.
“I might be crazy, baby lately, I don’t believe the news, They say it’s ending, to stop pretending, to start looking for clues.
A glass cylinder, where we can linger, let me take us to the stars, I won’t be missing, your tender kissing, ‘cos the light will wipe up all the sky”
A turn of guitar phrase comparable with Lee Hazlewood in his prime: a vocal of such purity and genuine loveliness; one which is as perfectly nuanced as that of Julia Holter on the ridiculously glorious, ‘Gold Dust Woman‘. These two things alone ensure ‘Reincarnation’ surpasses all its acoustic predecessors.
A cloud of harmonies painted with a light wash of synth add a touch of poignancy to what is an already moving atmosphere. Percussion in the form of waves of crashing cymbals, underlines the sonic build, adding a dash of drama to the intensifying score.
Susanne Sundfor is renowned for the crystalline quality of her far-reaching vocal, but for me, her voice goes beyond purity and clarity. Hers is a terrifically expressive and animated voice, a voice with which she breathes life into intricate lyricism that itself runs the gamut from deeply painful to ecstatically euphoric.
“Do you believe in reincarnation, ‘cos I thought I saw your soul. flashing and dancing on the horizon”
Impressive vocals aside, it is the slide guitar that triumphs on this enchanting journey from mother earth to another realm. Whoever is playing this amber tongued instrument is one seriously skilled and talented musician.
He/she doesn’t just play, they stroke and caress those strings with such a gentle force as to provokes the most heart warming and soul-stirring of sounds. This is amber nectar on a par with Scotland’s finest single malt – rich, golden, potent, delicious and most important of all, satisfying.
‘Reincarnation’ is a song one could visualise Susanne singing at a nocturnal gig in a open field. A scene dotted with small woodpile fires set against a backdrop of inky night, where a sky filled with opaline stars reflects the heavenly loveliness of the angelic choral finale of this Norwegian lullaby. One wonders if this will make the Spektrum setlist when she plays Oslo next week?
‘Reincarnation’ is available as a free download here – Susanne will play Oslo’s finest venue, Spektrum, on 17th September – some tickets still available, details here. For further information regarding the download, Susanne’s upcoming gigs and future releases, follow her on her socials – Facebook – Twitter.