Karen Cecilie Cæsar (Sørensen) introduced herself in her homemade (and very professional) press statement by saying she hails from the Danish “mountains” near Aarhus. I didn’t even know there were mountains in Denmark and it certainly got my attention. It reminded me of a joke about the world’s shortest book – the A to Z of Dutch ski resorts – but that’s another country altogether.
Another attraction was that her style is ‘folk noir.’ Now what exactly is that?
And what a great name. It just rolls off the tongue.
This album, ‘Low Season’ is her debut but she’s released several singles previously. The title reflects the ‘Low Season’ of COVID lockdowns and is riddled with anxiety and self-reflection but at the same time it looks forward expectantly to a ‘high season’ of sunshine, both actual and metaphorical; the light at the end of the tunnel.
It’s wide-ranging to say the least, and deep. One song imagines the end of the world, a consequence of overconsumption by “kids with fancy things” who “want it all when we need less.” (That’s us).
On another she burns the “meaningless ephemera of contemporary adulthood” by literally throwing her birth certificate and insurance policies onto a midsummer bonfire. Oh boy. Your birth certificate is ephemeral?
On that track she sounds – musically, lyrically and tonally – like Jenny Lewis and that’s a comparison I rarely make.
Now I’m starting to ‘get’ folk noir. And didn’t Saga Norén throw her Polis badge off the Øresund Bridge for much the same reason in the classic Nordic Noir TV drama?
Musically, she employs mainly 60-year old acoustic and analogue instrumentation, giving her work a dated feeling. The first track features a pedal organ, a family heirloom that hasn’t been repaired since 1939.
To be honest I almost didn’t get past the first 50 seconds of that track, which was a little too experimental for me, but as soon as I heard the next one, ‘Slow Motion’, with its subtle banjo accompaniment overlaid with lush synths (you read that right) and with an ever so slight Americana feel,I knew that she is a genuine and rare talent.
And her vocal is equally sumptuous, as clear as a bell, with every word audible, just like the female protest singer-songwriters of the 1960s and 70s.
I know what I’m going to be doing this weekend – giving this album the full treatment, on repeat. I suggest you consider doing the same.
Upon the release of the album (11 November), she will play a concert at Skråen in Aalborg, Denmark. Tour dates and venues to support the album will be announced later.
I’d like to see her in the UK. As soon as possible.
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