I See Rivers - 'Standing Barefoot' EP
Having followed and written about the progress of Norwegian trio 'I See Rivers' for sometime, it is genuinely exciting to finally see the release of their debut EP, 'Standing Barefoot', as well as reading about them on websites far more prestigious than little Nordic Music Review. But I also have to confess at being slightly anxious over the prospect of listening to it - no-one could possibly doubt the talent of the 'float folk' trio, and their live performances are always captivating and lovely, but my concern was whether they would be able to translate that natural live connection onto a recorded EP.
Well the good news is that 'Standing Barefoot' is a simply charming release, that captures the magic of the trio, and delivers 5 beautifully written tracks that finally gives us something substantial to listen to. The EP opens with 'Barefoot', a simple acoustic guitar and immediately we're offered those impossibly perfect harmonies and delicate tunes, and the track builds with a level of intensity I didn't expect to hear, and at almost 5 minutes it feels fairly weighty too. It all works way better than I was expecting. 'Da Ram' is probably the track most people will remember from their live performances, but the recorded version allows us all to hear the lovely subtleties in the instrumentation - I love the twinkling glockenspiel, and it remains simply great fun to listen to. You can watch the video here:
'Evening Light' is a highlight of the EP, a new track to me, with thoughtful and melancholy vocals and lyrics, probably a simpler song structure and the softest of melodies that sits beneath the more complex harmonies. 'Ocean' remains a track that has a real power and forcefulness, but still based around that simple acoustic guitar, this is a band who never stray far from their acoustic folk roots. The EP concludes with 'Slow Down', a song I don't seem to remember from their live performances and shows the trio at their cohesive best, the track building to an impressive climax with all 3 vocalists belting out their harmonies, before the sweetest of dynamic changes concludes the song.
'I See Rivers' remain such a natural and special talent, and whilst I wouldn't want to descend into too many cliches, they were clearly born to perform in a 'Float Folk' trio together. 'Standing Barefoot' captures everything that has made people love the band so much live, but also delivers their music in a far more intense and sometimes darker way than expected. I really hope that this finally gets them the attention they deserve, and if you do get a chance to see their mesmerizing shows live, please try and get to see them.