A surprise release from Sol Heilo on 26th March, accompanied by a brief message on social media, which I’ll repeat verbatim.
“This was a hidden song until now. I never intended to share it with anyone, but now I felt a sudden urge to record and release it, as I think there might be someone out there who needs it more than I. I guess there are many people in need of a little light, these days.”
It was only a few weeks ago that another ex-Katzenjammer member, Marianne Sveen, released her second single and I remarked at the time how different her individual style is to that of the band. Sol Heilo ploughed a similar path with her own debut album, ‘Skinhorse Playground’ and it’s more of the same here with a song of which it isn’t clear when she wrote it. Perhaps it was one of the many she penned while on the road with Katzenjammer, in what were the darker moments towards the end that were not made public at the time.
And indeed there are some elements of Katzenjammer in it, particularly the interaction between sparse piano, accordion and mandolin, which was a feature of several of the band’s ballads. At the same time it is enhanced by Heilo’s unique slightly breathless and raspy vocal, one that she has developed in her solo career and which has won her many new friends by way of appearances on popular Norwegian television programmes.
Its a stirring piece, augmented by the choral ending, which is possibly an example of another skill she has; the ability to multi-track her own voice convincingly à la 10cc in ‘I’m not in love.’
Lyrically, there is a progression from dark into light:
“There’s no tears for you, anymore”…/“There is still a light somewhere, a light that never disappears”…/“the darkness won’t stay dark for long”. It’s a song equally appropriate to a bomb shelter in the Blitz, a storm shelter in the tornado zone, or a pandemic.
I can’t help thinking that it was about this time last year when (the UK’s) Queen Elizabeth made an address to the nation at the beginning of the pandemic. And of how perfectly this song would have played it out.