ALBUM OF THE MONTH: FRIDA HYVÖNEN – KVINNOR OCH BARN

This is brutal and gut wrenching. Beautiful and heartbreaking.

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FRIDA HYVÖNEN KVINNOR OCH BARN (Universal)

She is ruthlessly candid, to the extent that I feel uncomfortable and start to twitch, turn and distance myself from her words that hit like punches in the gut. The lyrics are completely raw and utterly stripped of any possible layers and symbolism. Quite often very naive even, it feels as if everything has been written in the heat of the moment and nothing has been cut out. We’re left with storytelling that is nothing but honest and occasionally truly painful. Whether or not the lyrics are biographical, she sure performs the songs with such conviction that you’ll end up believing she’s lived through it all.

While the change of language could be an important element in the intimacy of Kvinnor och Barn (Women And Children), her up close and personal attention to the musical details definitely is another key ingredient. Believe me, this is not the first time. Her Silence Is Wild from 2008 was a pop masterpiece, where she had her finger on all the right triggers. Here again, it is her voice, her blunt lyrics and her piano, where she’s firmly stationed at, that hits me at first. Once I’ve done the turnaround with her naive frankness and my discomfort, I start to hear the exquisite nuances and details she’s integrated within the sparse arrangements.

It’s the subtle and gorgeous R&B beats, claps, rhythms on Sjön (The Lake) and Imponera På Mig (Impress Me). Something that continues organically in Kommer Du? (Are You Coming?), a song that brilliantly reflects on the end of a relationship, accompanied by a lonely trumpet and a pencil on paper writing, the farewell letter, perhaps? It’s the gentle keyed fiddle on the title track, performed by her father or that lonely, distant oboe in the sad and yet, heavenly Drömmen Om Dig (The Dream About You). Everything is done with such elegance and fine print, that I’m just in awe.

Hyvönen’s slightly shrill voice has always both intrigued and annoyed me, and it is that ambivalence that keeps me on the edge of my seat when listening to her. But with her now singing in Swedish, something else has entered into her voice, a brightness, a clearness of some sort, hard to pin down exactly what it is. Might have something to do with the fact that she sings in an accent that’s originates from the northern parts of Sweden, where she grew up.

So to sum it up, what is totally crushing about this album is her stories and the naked language, as if we’re reading her diary. Like the next to last song on the album, the 7 minute long Fredag Morgon (Friday Morning), about receiving an email from an ex, which makes her reminisce the relationship that was in a slow decline to a dark and destructive place, and the song is almost too unbearable to listen to, due to its total transparency. It is brutal and gut wrenching. Well, thank God she ends it on a somewhat lighter note in Amors Förkastliga Pilar (Amor’s Reprehensible Arrows), where she sings that if she ever were to encounter love again, she would dress up in chain armour, lie down, breathe and let it pass, just to avoid falling again.

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