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  • David Bentley

Frøkedal & Familien (Norway) - 'Set Your Spirit Free' (single from forthcoming album ‘Flora’)

Ok, so now it’s official, no longer is it just (Anne Lise) Frøkedal, her ‘Familien’ (family) are firmly on board and that’s recognised in the band name.

This is the second single to be released from her third album, ‘Flora’, which will be out on 14th May and which we will of course review in some detail, as befits ‘Norway’s coolest woman’. I really must stop calling her that; it’s getting to be passé now. Could the fourth album be called ‘Fauna’? We shall see.

Now the small talk is out of the way, here’s the nitty gritty. It was about this time in 2015 that I first saw Frøkedal (and the family) playing, at The Castle in Manchester, to a meagre audience that was dominated by the pickled remnants of an all-day hen party which danced maniacally to even her slowest ballads. I wish I’d been able to take a picture of her face, it was priceless.

I came away thinking she was a very adept artist, comfortable on her guitar, with an ear for melodic, thoughtful songs, a storyteller and with a talented backing band. Five years or so and another album later she’s the real deal. She hasn’t added much to the basic ingredients that she offered that night;she’s just refined them to the nth degree.

The PR tells me that ‘Flora’ is “a record of ‘nature and awakening,’ one that explores the human race’s inherent restlessness and ability to find connections.” The only connections I’ve managed in the last 12 months have been on Zoom and Microsoft Teams but perhaps it’s easier around Oslo.

And that does appear to be the case on this track, ‘Set your spirit free’, the vibes of the song being of escape from chaos into some sort of mythical nirvana which is in reality unachievable. “We once thought our minds could take us anywhere/beyond the wasteland/far from the concrete/that we had laid”. So they had been the architects of their own misfortune?

Despite the uplifting and repeated refrain of “set your spirit free” there is something in the lyrics that suggest it was a forlorn and ultimately futile attempt at escape. “The same old dream/but I won’t/let it be.” Perhaps the idea is that even if you can’t escape you can at least dream of it? As with Nightwish’s Eva, who “flies away…dreams the world, far away”.

There is also something of Arcade Fire’s ‘Sprawl II, Mountains beyond Mountains’ in it, delivered with the contemplative alt-folk charm of Emmy the Great.

Musically, it’s a slow burner which rises progressively on the back of a simple yet compelling guitar riff which comes in at around the 1:40 mark and later returns and which results in an anthemic conclusion.

Both the tracks released so far (the other was Søn) augur for a terrific album and one thing I’ll say for sure is that as soon as it is out it will be played remorselessly by Marc Riley on BBC 6Music, a candidate for #1 fan. And hopefully that might lead on to another live in-studio performance and possibly some attendant shows if Mr Covid permits?

‘Set your spirit free’ is out today Friday 23rd April (Fysisk Format).

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