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RÚN 🇮🇸 - ‘Gleym mér ei’ (Album)

I really need to make a special effort as we enter our 10th year to ensure we cover as many releases as possible, and starting with Icelandic artist RÚN seems appropriate, an independent artist who's released an album out of pure passion, a personal project based on old Icelandic poems that she didn't want to be forgotten.


We've not featured RÚN before, and behind the name is 26 year old Guðrún Ólafsdóttir. who apparently has been song writing and playing in bands since a young age. Inevitably I tried to find some trace of these bands but have drawn a blank, but do wonder if there's a connection with the Icelandic opera singer of the same name, who in turn had connections with 2 of our favourite bands, Mum and Agent Fresco.


Anyway the new album is called Gleym mér ei” which translates to “Forget-me-not”, and it's just 7 tracks, all of which based around Icelandic poems, and all of them feel personal and powerful, helped by RÚN's vocals, which have this natural atmospheric aura, sometimes soft and intimate, but often soaring as if being carried by wind across the mountains of the North.


It's opening track Vetrarkvöld which appealed to me most on 1st listen, and RÚN has been explaining to us everything about the track, which is based around a poem written by 'badass' Icelandic poet Guðrún Árnadóttir earlier last century, known for her radical political views


"Vetrarkvöld which translates to “Winter Night”, was the last song I wrote for my album Gleym mér ei. I had pictured it as an intro song and I wanted to catch the listener’s attention with a deep and powerful bass drum, mixed with traditional Icelandic harmonies (sung in fifths). I just needed one thing, to find the right poem. I wanted to find a poem by a female writer, strong and powerful, that would set the tone for the rest of the album. After some search I came across Vetrarkvöld by Guðrún Árnadóttir and fell in love right away. Her words describe so well what it's like to live on our cold island in the north, as well as the long and relentless winter that should never be underestimated. But she describes it in a most beautiful and powerful way. To me, she had painted a picture I already knew. I could see the window frost; the dancing northern lights; and I could feel the deep serenity in the silence, the day after a stormy night. I could also imagine how it would feel breaking that silence with a song, as the poet suggests. I really felt the cold while reading, but I felt warm inside. Because what Guðrún Árnadóttir writes about in Vetrarkvöld is what I know best. It is home."


But actually the rest of the album has really grown on me over the past couple of weeks. The songs are sensitively written, even if I don't understand everything lyrically, with some lovely piano contributions throughout, but particularly in "Það vex eitt blóm fyrir vestan" and 'fyrstu vordaegur". My favourite track however is the gorgeous 'Vísur á Sjó', a melancholic song benefitting from a beautiful melody and perfectly judged vocals.


Anyway, 'Gleym mér ei' is a little bit different, and as well as being a lovely album to listen to, it plays a vital role in giving each of these poems an online footprint.


Find her on Instagram.


Postscript: A few weeks after publishing this I had some lovely detail through about the track 'Vísur á sjó' from the artist. I realise it makes the feature a bit wordy, but the detail is so nice:

"I submitted the song “Vísur á sjó” to a songwriting competition hosted by Hannesarholt in 2020 and received second place for it. That pushed me to finish the album. I remember the advertisement my mom sent me. In it, musicians were encouraged to write songs to poems by Hannes Hafstein. In a short timespan, with less than a week to go, I read everything I could find by the famous poet and former prime minister.

I felt like the poem I finally chose, "Vísur á sjó" (Songs at Sea), could be interpreted in two ways. On one hand, as subconscious thoughts of a sailor that describes how the ocean rocks him like a child in a cradle, soothes and comforts after a storm that the crew had to endure earlier. Enchanted by the deep waves, his mind wanders between sweet memories and dreams after, what one might imagine, a frightening life experience. However, he fears nothing and accepts his fate with open arms. Perhaps that was the only way to survive? To escape from the present into beautiful memories. On the other hand, I couldn't help but wonder: did he really live? Could the poem also be interpreted as the sailor’s last lullaby? Sung by the deep waves that got the best of him in the storm, and now gently lull him to his final rest: “leiða inn í blómskrýdd lönd” (lead into flourishing lands)... Like the poem states.

Hopefully not, hopefully it was just a dream. Regardless of the sailor’s  fate, the poem perhaps reminds readers of how many souls have disappeared into the depths off Iceland's shores. And how many had to sail into the uncertainty day after day."


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