On numerous occasions while I’ve been doing this job I’ve mentioned that the greatest satisfaction comes from discovering genuine top-class talent that is new to me and possibly to most of the readers also. It is more often than not female singer-songwriters (the last one was Denmark’s Gurli Octavia) but this time it’s a bloke, from Iceland with a song delivered in Icelandic but the fact I can’t understand a word doesn’t seem to matter.
Oscar Leone is a pseudonym for Pétur Óskar, an actor. A nice touch that, if it was intended, a movie gong and a legendary film director brought together in the same name and the song is an ‘ode to his mother’. I can’t help with the translation, Icelandic is a difficult language at the best of times and the best Mr Google can come up with for ‘Sjaldan er ein Báran Stök’ is ‘Rarely is one Báran Stök’, which doesn’t make much sense in any language.
However, as we know, it isn’t necessary with some songs to understand what they mean, the musicianship and the sense of power and purpose can carry them off on their own. This song is a prime example.
It is a fairly tame but pleasant piano ballad to start with but about halfway through a choir comes in and from that moment on you are transported from the glaciers, waterfalls and lava fields of Iceland to the South Wales valleys, on a dank Sunday evening in the chapel to be overwhelmed with fabulous harmonies. The ending is unbelievable. If there is one thing in common between the Icelanders and the Welsh it is that they can both sing brilliantly in choirs. The more you listen to it the more you appreciate it could have been sung just before the final battle in the film Zulu as an alternative to ‘Men of Harlech’.
And as I’ve also mentioned many times previously, some songs simply have ‘film score’ written all over them. Is this one? Is the Pope Catholic?
He says, "With this song I feel that I’m getting closer to my real sound. It’s always an endless hunt for the right kind of intimacy and with this song being in Icelandic, I feel like I am inviting people closer to my heart.” It needs to be performed live, preferably in somewhere like Reykjavik’s Hallgrimskirkja during this year’s Iceland Airwaves festival and with the church’s choir. Are you listening, organisers? I’d book flight tickets there on the strength of this alone.
The song was released on 25th June and a video is due shortly. It should be good because he’s been nominated for video awards in both 2019 and 2020.
Oscar Leone is currently working on his EP in his studio in Reykjavík and will soon be back on the road touring.
Find him on Facebook.