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Review: Anna Von Hausswolff

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Anna Von Hausswolff – Ceremony (Fat Possum, 2013)

by Caleb Nichols

Anna Von Hausswolff is yet another powerful female composer/vocalist/keyboardist who has been pigeonholed into the increasingly diverse “next Kate Bush” genre (apparently Kate Bush is the only woman who has ever made art music, at least that is what one might deduce when reading popular music criticism about any female singer who is in the least bit “arty”).

Von Hausswolff hails from Sweden, plays a pipe organ and writes songs about the death of her future children, the yearning of mountains, and darkness in general. These songs are often stunningly beautiful, though some contain the glossy strains of an Andrew Lloyd Weber musical (which, in this context, is not off-putting; it is enchanting).

Vocally, Von Hausswolff is a powerhouse. Perhaps it’s the Swedish connection, but the timbre of her voice reminds me of Abba chanteuse Frida Lyngstad; strong, resonant and vigorous.

Ceremony is Von Hausswolff’s second offering, her first for US label Fat Possum, and it’s a gloriously dark and melodic affair. Keyboards swirl throughout the record in Phillip Glass-inspired arpeggios, augmented by tasteful percussion, guitar and of course Von Hausswolff’s soaring vocals.

For fans of First Aid Kit, Abba, and Kate Bush (jk).

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