Hilde Marie Kjersem: A Killer For That Ache (2008)
The group was also hamstrung by a largely more conventional rock group line-up of guitar, bass, keys and drums, though Kjersem did play her autoharp on the charmingly naive "Sleepyhead" that also opens A Killer. While her performance suggested a rich, interpretive voice capable of great subtlety and greater power, it quickly got lost when the group came in. Here, with economical and better conceived instrumentation that nevertheless weighs heavily on Jørgen Munkeby and Sjur Meiljeteig's various reeds and horns, the songs take on a lusher complexion.
Munkeby, the mainstay of Rune Grammofon group Shining, is a versatile multi-instrumentalist who elevated that group's In the Kingdom of Kitsch You Will Be a Monster (2005) and Shining (2007) into the realm of challenging, epic-based sonic collage. Here he proves equally capable of sparer contexts, his bass clarinet driving the minimal pulse of "It Is Easy," alternating with a strange, carnival-esque chorus that reflects Kjersem's interest in Tim Burton and the film director's longtime musical cohort, Danny Elfman.
But A Killer is Kjersem's show, all eleven songs written by the singer and demonstrating a wealth of ideas and breadth of scope. The title track is gorgeous, where a layered choir is all that's needed to support Kjersem's evocative vocal. "Midwest Country" is, indeed, an Americana-centric song that still manages to feel somehow skewed, while another solely vocal track, "Save Up," reflects a southern gospel influence. Kjersem's voice is remarkably malleablesoft and warm on the closing "Working Girl," where a lovely mix of Torbjørn Folke Zetterberg banjo and Kjerstem's Fender Rhodes leads into a majestic ending; understated on the electonica-centric "London Bridge"; and ethereal on the dramatic "Marie Antoinette." She rarely lets loose, as she did more consistently in performance, but it makes the rare occasion when she does here far more effective.
With a combination of oftentimes innocent lyrics and a modern approach to songwriting that meshes a wealth of influences and production ideas, A Killer For That Ache is a welcome debut that's a far better representation of Kjersem's potential than her sadly trouble-fraught performance.
Track Listing: Sleepyhead; Mary Full of Grace; Fantasy; Marie Antoinette; A Killer For That Ache; Midwest Country; Save Up; London Bridge; It Is Easy; Catching a Star; Working Girl.
Personnel: Hilde Marie Kjersem: vocals, autoharp, keys (2, 4, 8, 11); Jørgen Munkeby: synth sax, bass clarinet, clarinet, flute, vocal, guitar (8), tenor sax (10); Torbjørn Folke Zetterberg: bass, moog, guitars, banjo, vocals, Rhodes (3), erhu (8); Sjur Meiljeteig: trumpet, miscellaneous brass, vocals; Peder Kjellsby: drums, percussion, sid, vocals, piano (6); Martin Revheim: additional snare drum (4); Mark Kramer: organ (6).
Record Label: Rune Grammofon
Style: Beyond Jazz