Marthe Halvorsen - 'All Is in the Seed' (Album)
I've touched on this subject before, but sometimes music becomes synonymous with a time in your life, an event, even a journey or a holiday. And I'll always remember Marthe Halvorsen's album 'All In the Seed' as it arrived at a time when I really needed some help, with some long car journeys to deal with and too much time to contemplate family illness issues. In a strange selfish way I've almost not wanted to share it with anyone - maybe even in the way in which a child will hold onto a comfort blanket or favourite teddy. But clearly editing a Music Blog whilst taking the approach of not sharing the really good stuff would be slightly odd, so I'll just get on with it and try and explain a bit more about the album.
So Marthe Halvorsen is a Norwegian folk influenced singer songwriter, but actually based in Canada now, which I like as she seems to have migrated to the one country I visualise (along with New Zealand perhaps)
as being as beautiful as Norway, and this is her debut album. To write and record it she returned home to the North of Norway to be re-inspired by the beautiful and isolated Arctic landscapes - which makes a nice change from the isolated cabin in the forest with just a field mouse for company, which as regular readers will know, appears to be the preferred destination for almost most Scandinavian musicians.
The album starts with 'Potential', and the first thing that I immediately like is the understated stripped back sound, and then it's the rhythm of the vocals - which hit me even before the lovely re-assuring tone. And there is a melody which soars above the guitar, and just gives it that level of intensity that makes me stop, and then listen to the lyrics, already transfixed over what I hear. 'The Gardener' has a lilting upbeat quality, and here we're introduced to a really distinct trait of the album - the percussion and rhythms influenced by her travels to different parts of the world, and when then the trumpets kick in with apparently perfect timing, you'll realise that this album is going to be a real treat.
After 'Little Feather' which is an obvious highlight, and released as a pre-album single, we're introduced to the first track sung in Norwegian, ' Lukk øyan så du kan se' (which of course translates to 'Close your eyes so you can See') and maybe it's the language but there is a natural melancholy that makes the track so beautiful, helped by the violin contribution which is perfectly judged. 'Sound' has some lovely lyrics, ''Every bee has its own symphony of sound'', with a delicious celebratory chorus supported by trumpet and again those percussive rhythms. The string contribution in 'The Woods' is really special, and whilst I don't feel the connection quite as much to the Spanish influenced 'La Vida Es Sincilla' ('Life is simple'), 'Alarm!' is another sensitively judged piece of songwriting with clever musical effects, and again I'm drawn to the lyrics ''Let us not be remembered for telling lies'', it is a contemplative thought provoking track. The 7 minute 'Silence is a Sound' (yes indeed) completes the album and she sums up the premise of the track perfectly - 'Can you hear it floating around?' she asks, considering her surroundings, and then finishes with another cute melody simply accompanied by acoustic guitar and the subtlest of drum rhythms.
This is the type of album that I just need to hear the first few notes of to feel this surge of re-assuring warmth pass over me. Everything about it is beautiful, Marthe Halvorsen's vocals are just perfect, the clever contributions from her fellow musicians add a lovely texture to the songs, and it has a lovely mix between wistful melancholy and a positive appreciation of her surroundings, which in turn makes me feel my glass is 'half full'. This has all been made more special by the fact that this album seemed to 'appear' out of nowhere, no hype, no big PR machine telling me why I should like it, it was just 'there' waiting for me, as if it somehow knew that I needed it. Quite probably my favourite release of the year to date, Marthe Halvorsen is a really special songwriter accompanied by some special musicians, and I'm convinced everyone will love 'All Is In the Seed'.
Nordic Music Review 9/10
The artwork for the album is by Javier Hernan Rubinstein.