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David's Angels: Substar

Eyal Hareuveni By

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David's Angels is the debut release of a Swedish outfit featuring young singer/songwriter Sofie Norling and composer/pianist Maggi Olin. It is a beautiful eight song-cycle focused on troubled relationship—belonging, sorrow and letting go—that travels into a deeply emotional and sonic journey.

Norling has a clear, warm, angel-like voice that can soar into the upper registers, and always suggests close intimacy. Olin, together with Danish drummer Michala Østergaard-Nielsen, electric bassist David Carlsson and guest trumpeter Ingrid Jensen (Olin's collaborator in Nordic Connect), embrace and stress Norling vocal qualities with a soft and gentle base that assists the singer in exploring the various shades and colors of her feelings.

This melodic envelope assists Norling in delivering her sober and painful insights about love gone wrong. In the opener, "My new me," she concludes with the heartbreaking observation: "I cut off my old load," and, as Jensen joins in, the melody becomes distorted to reflect the turbulent breakup. The slow, rhythmic "Falling" reflects Norling's conflicting emotions about falling in love too hastily, and the ensuing regrets.

Norling manages to summarize formative life-experiences such as loss and letting go of a love in few short and haunting sentences on "Substar," and on the most beautiful and sad "Ambition." Olin, Østergaard-Nielsen and Carlsson's minimal, ripple-like touches only emphasize the restrained drama in Norling's vocal delivery. All are inventive musicians: Olin with her hypnotic, melodic framework; Carlsson with distorted guitar effects on his bass guitar; Østergaard-Nielsen with dynamic brushes work; and Jensen with her distant, muted trumpet.

Both "Stay for a while," with its strong melody from composer/guitarist Torben Waldorff, and "Too much" reflect the beginning of the letting go process. Norling concludes this impressive journey with the dissonant "Faceless," where she regains confidence in herself, and mourns the new, almost physical distance from her former partner on "Closer."

Track Listing: My new me; Falling; Substar; Ambition; Stay for a while; Too much; Faceless; Closer

Personnel: Sofie Norling: vocals; Maggi Olin: piano, fender rhodes, organ; David Carlsson: electric bass; Michala Østergaard-Nielsen: drums, percussion; Ingrid Jensen: trumpet, flugelhorn and effects; Torben Waldorff: guitar (5).

Title: Substar | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Kopasetic Productions


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