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Siril Malmedal Hauge & Jacob Young: Last Things

Geno Thackara By

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Personal, thoughtful, starkly minimal and yet sublimely atmospheric—this is the kind of session that's terribly easy to overlook, but if it tried to grab your attention, that would really defeat the purpose. The appeal of Last Things is in its disarming straight-from-the-heart intimacy. Simple but never simplistic, it offers the aural equivalent of late-night relaxation amid soft warm lights.

Though Siril Malmedal Hauge croons that there is "no time to lose at all" on the alluring smoky opener, she and Jacob Young approach the occasion as if they've got all the time in the world. The vaguely Latin-tinged Young original introduces a beautiful program that puts a few jazz chestnuts, golden pop tunes and classic-rock staples all in the same cozy basket.

Young's other composition is a quasi-folky title track that pleasingly evokes Nick Drake at his most wistful. It's the only occasion where he sings as co-lead, and while it's easy to wish there was more, it's hard to complain about any of Hauge's superb performance. With a mellifluous alto much in the wheelhouse of Melody Gardot, she squeezes an impressive nuance into each unassuming syllable. She smoothly takes "Deep River" from comfort to longing, finds the quietest kind of joy in Cole Porter's "So in Love," and floats through a lovely "Skylark" sounding lighthearted as a garden bird herself.

In step with Hauge's approach and his own previous ECM Records titles, Young's guitar backing is a course in humble understatement. He leans on smooth clean tones with a small dash of other things from time to time—electric delay here, background haze there, then a chirpy lead to double Hauge's scatting as they render Jimi Hendrix's "Little Wing" with quaint soft-bop charm. This is a musical pairing soothing and delightful as sweet wine—here's hoping Last Things is only their first.

Track Listing: Bounce with Me; I Will; Little Wing; Skylark; Last Things; Deep River; So in Love; No Moon at All; Lilac Wine; The Ballad of the Sad Young Men.

Personnel: Siril Malmedal Hauge: voice, mandolin; Jacob Young: guitars, guitarbanjo, mandolin, guitalele, voice.

Title: Last Things | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Oslo Session Recordings

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