Album of the Week: Ida Wenøe - 'The Things We Don't Know Yet'
Regular readers will be used to delays to our album reviews, normally caused by constraints of time and general hapless disorganisation, however sometimes writing about albums which are that little bit special simply take a bit longer. And Ida Wenøe's album 'The Things We Don't Know Yet' isn't the type of album that anyone can really take in after one listen, because there's so many lovely subtle details in both the music and the lyrics that will take that bit longer to understand and appreciate - but I promise you that if you invest the time in it, you will really treasure all 9 tracks.
We have written about Ida Wenøe before of course, both in relation to previous visits to the UK and in advance of the album with her single 'Another Kind of Love'. This is her 2nd album, a follow up to her acclaimed (nominated at the Danish music awards) 2017 release entitled 'Time of Ghosts', and the former singer from trio 'Boho Dancer' is now fully established as a solo songwriter and respected live performer - with performances in venues and at festivals all over Europe.
It is the lyrics in opening title track 'The Things We Don' Know Yet' that hit me first. Accompanied by simple acoustic guitar Ida Wenøe gets straight to the key line in the albums title ''We don't need to put into words the things we don't know yet', and the fact that I've spent so much time thinking about those words in the opener, unpicking and understanding them shows that they've immediately home - ''we won't get very far with the truth, if truth hasn't seen yet'. 'Change Me A Little' beautifully describes the feeling of being happy enough to be 'changed, by someone you love, leading to the lovely line ''Hide me a little inside you, I'll hang there like a bird on your rib for a minute or two'', and already I feel comfort and warmth in the music and words. 'Circus Season' tells the story of her encounter with someone she describes as 'the devil' on the last day of her US tour, and somehow she manages to convey the experience through unworldly swirling vocals that will transport you to a different place, it's got a slightly disturbing edge which makes it really effective. 'Another Kind of Love' is probably the most powerful and authorative musically (an obvious single), I guess because of the strong vocal melody, and the lyrics are somehow desperate, fragile and powerful all at once.
I try not to talk about Nordic artists too much in clichés of icy Nordic landscapes, but 'Värmeland' (apparently a mythical Swedish place featured in folk songs) is that song, but what 'Värmeland' is Ida Wenøe exactly describing? There's probably more to this than I yet understand. However it is 'The River of Treesbury Hill' that just gets inside me, to the extent that I ended up stopping my run in the country to listen and take in the beauty around me - before then going home to look and see if a place called 'Treesbury Hill' existed - not that it matters, as we all have our own river at Treesbury Hill. The song 'Self Pity' is perfectly described and worded, with a lovely straightforward tune - 'My stupid fan-page does not have as many likes as yours & I think you're the reason why I dislike that too much''. The album then ends with 'A Place So Full of Splendour' (which obviously reminds me of the 'Home of Fadeless Splendour', even if the songs are somewhat of a polar opposite), where she sings of her longing for home, and musically it develops with an upbeat feel as if she sees the world and its temptations for what they are, and that she knows where contentment really lies.
I've written too much, but 'The Things We Don't Know Yet' has made such an impact, with 9 tracks that are so distinct in their own right, individually crafted and textured musically, all with the most thoughtful of words to accompany it. Ida Wenøe is able to create such intensity and command such presence through her quiet, delicate vocals and guitar - with the sparsest of instrumental support. But more importantly than anything I guess I love 'The Things We Don't Know Yet' because it is such a personal album to me, something I can relate to, listen to with wonder and continue to appreciate and understand over time. Even today I wanted to listen one last time before I summed up what I thought of the album, but I don't think I can ever do it justice by writing about it here, so just please give this is a little time, it's simply an album of beauty.
Nordic Music Review 9/10
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'The Things We Don't Know Yet' is released through 'Songcrafter Music in the Nordic regions, and through the excellent Integrity Records everywhere else.