Only few would disagree with the absolute satisfaction the discovery of a deliciously folky singer can bring. Every velvety, warming syllable wraps around the soul like an angelic hug. This is proven on an occasional basis when I am introduced to an artist whose voice I want to devour again and again. Jenny Lysander is such a discovery.
Visualise if you will a bewitching Scandinavian songbird tucked away deep in the Meditterarean forest with her guitar, voice and an English songwriter called Piers Faccuni for company. The result of that meditative solitude is Northern Folk, Lysander’s debut album.
I listened to every song and I loved most. Twelve intimate tracks with otherworldly titles such as ‘A Painters Brush’, ‘Dancing On The Edge’, ‘Arms Wide To The Sky’, ‘Lavender Philosophy’ and ‘Were We Both Lions’. Similar artists that spring to mind are Sophie Zelmani, Fiona Apple, Ane Brun and Ruth Moody, all personal favourites. Moody’s album The Garden stands out for its similarity, namely the distinctive vocal work and guitar accompaniment.
Northern Folk starts off with ‘The Painters Brush’. The track is slightly similar in sound to ‘Valentine’ from afore mentioned album. As the vocals come in, the guitar remains a dominant force.
‘Dancing On The Edge’ is delicate and haunting, drawing you into a story of loneliness and hurt. “In the end you’ll get hurt by my words / Run run run run run run far from here / I take back, take back, take back all I said / I dance on, dance on, dance on the edge / I wish, I wish, I wish that I would fall.”
At first I wondered if an album of similarly angelic tracks might become repetitive but this wasn’t the case. The fifth track on the album, title track ‘Northern Folk’, has a medieval feel and is more energetic than previous: “Finally the evening calls / Opening my eyes and there’s nothing there.”
Northern Folk is a pure album and strong debut, beautiful in its simplicity and best enjoyed in complete stillness. If it was a flower, it would be white and sweetly scented, fragile and full of wonder. Lysander’s voice, the sound, the instrumentation, all work together to make this debut a winner. For someone so young (Lysander is 21), the album displays a maturity and self assurance beyond her years. Each melody evoked in me a desire to close my eyes and relax into a period of undisturbed, deep listening. I’m looking forward to seeing what Lysander and Faccuni produce next.
Northern Folk is out now on Beating Drum.
Helen Marie Grant