Midway between Iceland and Scotland is the inspirational cluster of islands the Faroe Islands. “I think that nature influences every artist from [here],” states native singer-songwriter Guðrið Hansdóttir who hails from its capital Tórshavn, and in listening to her third record Beyond the Grey, you could be in no doubt. Released on Beste! Unterhaltung (Broken Silence) it continues in the 30 year old’s plight of heavily location-influenced chamber folk, with songs steeped in the Faroes natural landscape.
She speaks of eddying winds and the celebrations of the earth and oceans, while percussive claps of thunder are just one mark of an onomatepoeic marriage between her music and lyrics through the 40-minute run. Her sound at its heart is a blend of Scandinavian folk which draws upon a mixture of her love of Swedish pop and 1970s classic rock, while vocally she recalls Basia Bulat’s deliciously crisp tone, that while harbouring a girlish pop spring in its step, is by no means lighthearted. ‘A Faroese Fisherman Speaks of Drowning’ is modern day folklore tale, very much thematic of the landscape from which it is drawn, while the mandolin led ‘Í Mjørka’ employs the works of Randi Ward, a West Virginian poet who spent much time on the Faroes and whose poems have formed the lyrics on Beyond the Grey’s, with Hansdóttir capturing its Americana vibe perfectly.
Playing in numerous rock bands over the years Hansdóttir finally branched out and released her own folk/pop centric debut Love is Dead in 2007. Following that, 2009’s The Sky is Opening won her Album of the Year at the Planet Awards and allowed for trips to Austin, TX to perform at the SXSW Festival. In addition she was part of a collaborative project alongside Danish and Austin based songwriters in December of 2009. The House of Songs project centred on this mixture of music, landscape and culture in an “exchange program” which allowed the artists to collaborate in songwriting, composing and performing. “We wrote songs during the day with different local artists, and in the evening we went out sightseeing and shopping. I met some amazing people while I was there…and got some friends for life, too.”
Guðrið Hansdóttir’s work is a stirring mix of contemporary classical music and rural inspired folk, combining songs of English language with bewitching fables in her native tongue, an insular Nordic language spoken by fewer than 50,000 people. Beyond the Grey is a record with a surprisingly fresh feel inspite of its often haunting and timeless moments.
Meditations on Salt
A Faroese Fisherman Speaks of Drowning
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