Löv (Norway): Letters of Isolation (EP)
I assume (hope) the time will come when there is no obligation felt by artists and bands to refer to the Covid zeitgeist. In the interim, you can’t blame for them doing that. They have after all been banged up without parole like the rest of us, unable to perform live, or even to write and record in any sort of comfort.
And that reminds me that Löv were one of the last bands I saw playing live; a year to the day that I write this. When they are at full throttle on stage the combined power of Øystein Skar and Marte Eberson’s synthesisers along with Martin Halla’s commanding vocal can blow the doors off the venue. But this is an altogether different, softer, gentler package.
In social media they described it as “an EP that deals with loneliness, children crying, longing and isolation, but also some lighter points. For our part, being able to create this EP has been the result of an apathetic and strange life in the past year. It has been very uplifting to have some song releases to look forward to.”
Two of the four tracks have been reviewed previously. Firstly, ‘A song for you’, a letter of dedication from Marte Eberson to her mother and in which she takes the lead vocal, with Martin Halla pitching in with the refrain “Don’t give up” as if he were a male Kate Bush to Eberson’s female Gabriel.
Secondly the waltz-like ‘Never Lose Light’ which concerns the difficulties of living with someone you love in trying times. On this one vocal duties are shared between Halla and Eberson.
The third track is the one I believe they referred to as “a lovely song signed by Martin” (which I take to mean he is the writer, not just the singer). That is ‘Stuck here with you’ (but not in the middle, this isn’t Stealers Wheel and no-one is going to get their ear sliced off), although it does seem to have a similar theme to that of ‘Never Lose Light’. But then you hear what appears to be the aforementioned child crying – or perhaps a baby - and the way the song plays out as a sort of extended instrumentallullaby suggests another aspect of lockdown that goes overlooked by single Johnnies like me – the impact on children and the strain it imposes on parents.
The final track is a cover – Billie Eilish’s ‘Everything I wanted’. I know they like this song. I’m pretty sure that they played it at the (both streamed) ‘Live from Sentralen’ concert last April and the Hiroshima 75th Anniversary Remembrance event in August. And they make a pretty good cover too, Halla’s tenor voice an interesting contrast to Eilish’s tones.
But I’m mildly disappointed they opted for a cover rather than one of the several instrumentals they have recorded over the last year. One of them which I’ve mentioned before is Eberson’s ‘Korona Toccata’, a classical piano piece which first saw the light of day at the Sentralen gig and then emerged in enhanced firm at the Hiroshima one. It would have made for a dramatic diversion from the sentimentality of the first track and rounded things off nicely, while it is anything but “apathetic”.
But who am I to complain. They’ve done what they set out to do and served up four songs just right for a soothing listen before turning in. Not too happy, not too sad. The sort of songs that the self-incarcerated Anne Frank and her family and friends might have listened to as they waited for the liberation that never came.
Fingers crossed it does for us, and quickly.
Nordic Music Review 8/10