Album review: Live Foyn Friis: Running Heart (CLP CD 138)

LiveFoynFriisRunningHeartI have enjoyed Norwegian born, Denmark-based singer songwriter Live Foyn Friis’s charming, quirky voice (it is clear and natural with a delicate vibrato) and poetic lyrics for a while. The fact that she continues with her top notch band on her album Running Heart is an added attraction. She is joined by Alex Jønsson on guitar (and Thom Yorke-like vocals too), Jens Mikkel on bass and Andreas Skamby on percussion, with layers added by a cello (played by Maria Isabel Edlund), kalimba, organ, additional vocals and a euphonium. The wonderful thing about Scandinavian jazz-pop-electronica is that they are not afraid to play under-used instruments like banjos (in this case, a euphonium and kalimba), and the catchiness of tunes disguises complex interesting music which belies the label “pop”.  Her band all played with great gusto and joy on I Think You’re Awesome and do so again here with her.

More electronic than her other work Live Foyn Friis with Strings, this album of own compositions, all love songs, is sophisticated, dark and haunting.  Live has many projects from Big Band to Foyn Trio! (improvised pop) and an enviable list of bands and collaborations. She is touring South America now, and her website mentions a tour of Angola in 2017.  The battery of sounds and effects creates an ethereal, fairytale disorientation which will go down very well in large venues, and it would be great to see her in the UK.

Running Heart is released on Curling Legs.

Mary James  17 January 2015

Album review: Roller Trio: Fracture (released December 2014)

Roller_Trio_FractureJust three words will do – stonking unforgettable tunes! But more than that – the long-awaited second album, Fracture, from Mercury Prize and MOBO nominated Roller Trio was worth the wait and the band can be rightly very proud of it.  The album is beautifully structured, with early tracks sounding like Roller Trio of old (cracking good tunes, lightning riffs, snappy changes of tempo, crashes and growls, that unmistakable warm sound) moving on to some more abstract pieces which have a serenity of mood and togetherness at their core that is very beautiful.  The ghostly and menacing  Low Tide  is surely destined to be expanded into a movie soundtrack?   They can slow it right down as in the pulsating, shimmering Tracer where the space allows you to savour each instrument and sound effect.

Roller_Trio_by_Tom_Thiel1Play this album loud! And see them live, like Portico before them, they are made for large venues – we probably won’t ever again see Saturn V rocket take-offs  for the moon – but Roller Trio are the next best thing for sending a shiver down your spine!


Mary James 12 January 2015

Album review: Jef Neve: One (released October 2014)

Jef_Neve_OneSolo piano albums are precious and a landmark for the artist.  And this one, One by Jef Neve is no exception, with seven impassioned own compositions and fresh interpretations of well known material such as Lush Life.

Jef Neve took master classes with Brad Mehldau, and there is something of Brad Mehldau’s emotional intensity to this beautiful album, just as there is in Jef’s live performance as I noted in my gigs of 2014, where the joy of performance and communication was very moving and direct. Jef creates walls of dense shimmering sound that do not overwhelm, as in his exciting interpretation of Lush Life.  There are compositions which move for their lovely melodies such as Solitude and Could It Be True.  And as for Joni Mitchell’s A Case of You – it is quite heartbreakingly beautiful, sensitive and delicate.

It is no surprise to learn that Jef has written for several films – there is a cinematic feel to the unfolding of each composition.  Solitude, originally written for performance with 2 dancers, tells the story of a father-son relationship, of the son yearning to break away, and finally caring for his Dad. The pianos (3 different ones across 2 continents, with most tracks recorded on a Yamaha CFX Concert Grand at Abbey Road Studios) all sound amazing.  Jef Neve deserves to be heard more frequently in the UK, but as he embarks on a world tour in January 2015, the UK is probably off the map for a while.  I am glad I saw him when I did and I will enjoy this album for a very long time.