Simen Mitlid - Last of Us (from new album Birds; or, Stories from Charlie B’s Travels From Grønlan)
In such continued uncertain times I increasingly reach for ‘comfort food’ music (as well as actual comfort food) and Simen Mitlid is the musical equivalent of a perfectly cooked Steak & Ale pie. I’ve actually no idea if they have Steak & Ale pies in Norway, although I’m going to take a wild guess and suggest that if they do they’ll be more expensive than the £5 ‘pie and a pint’ offer that my local pub runs every Wednesday.
Anyway he’s just released a new album entitled, wait for it, “Birds; or, Stories from Charlie B’s Travels From Grønland to the Sun, and Back Again”. In terms of titles I don’t think anything will ever beat Mogwai’s ‘Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will’, but this one is certainly a lot cuter.
Of course there’s a story behind the title, as Simen Mitlid explains. “The album consists of several small stories about the different journeys birds, astronauts, archeologists (who are also trying to figure out why people have traveled / moved), emigrants from Grønland (both the country and the district/quarter in Oslo where I have my rec. studio), Charlie B (made up character that takes the ultimate journey from Grønland to the Sun (!)), my family, my mind, my body, and the earth (when it spins around the sun), take during their lifetime.”
I think I understand. Okay actually I don’t understand at all, but it doesn’t matter, this is Simen Mitlid, and he just writes lovely music - soft, folk inspired songs with understated warm vocals that as he says in the track ‘Smoke’ “just makes sense of it all”.
We’ve covered a couple of pre album singles, but the lead track from the album is ‘Last of Us’, and it’s a good introduction to his music if you haven’t heard much of it before. Twinkling acoustic guitars provide a continuous backdrop, and the melody is gentle and thoughtful. Strings add to the reassuring sound, although it’s certainly not the most ‘catchy’ song in the album.
For that maybe listen to ‘Weeks’ or ‘Grateful Dead’, whilst ‘Birds’ is probably the most ‘classic’ sounding Mitlid. There’s some interesting collaborations too, including favourite NMR artists ‘Tuvaband’ and ‘Benedikt’, whilst in ‘Reocurring Dreams’ he joins together with the Oslo Hostel Choir.
The best advice I can give to anyone this week is switch off the news and listen to “Birds; or, Stories from Charlie B’s Travels From Grønland to the Sun, and Back Again”, there’s a warmth and compassion in his songwriting that is much needed, just check out the beautiful concluding track Grønland and you’ll understand what I mean.
Simen Mitlid is really an indie folk treasure and hope he can make it to the UK for some gigs in happier times. The Steak & Ale pie (plus pint) will definitely be on us.
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