Nordic Music Central Viking Hero

Celine Hess (Norway) – Stranger (single)

Over the years I’ve remarked on the number of Norwegian students who have passed through the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts and then went on to catch my attention as working musicians. I can think offhand of the female trio of I See Rivers, who seem to have gone a little quiet this year, and Kate Havenik, who has appeared in NMC.

I believe Iselin Solheim (the voice of Alan Walker’s ‘Faded’) might have studied there too.

And, hey presto, here is another one, Celine Hess (Henrichsen) from Oslo, a current student who paints herself as an independent artist, writing and producing on her own account out of her bedroom, describing herself as ‘emotional’ and specialising in ‘sad songs’ that might appeal to those who love to listen to sad music even though they aren’t.

She adopts the mantra that it is important to show people that feeling your feelings is not a bad thing. Feelings can be confusing, scary, and even annoying, but there is a reason you are feeling them and your feelings are always valid.

Sadness is a Scandinavian trait that often manifests itself in the music of the region although I’d argue that Sweden probably holds the #1 spot for it, over Norway.

‘Stranger’ is unashamedly a breakup song and she says it is more specifically about realising that you are better off without them.

Now I’m a little confused by the use of the pronoun. Does ‘them’ refer to many break ups, or to how those that have broken up identify themselves? We live in such perplexing times.

The lyrics suggest that she feels more comfortable without ‘them’ around her:

“You liked my hair long so I cut it short/I used to sing your favourite songs so I forgot the words”…

Followed by the damning “you showed me how not to love”.

Later, there’s a clever set of lines,

“I am a fool with a heart and no brain/you are a fool with a brain and no heart/Both are to blame for our stupid mistakes/I wish that I’d left before you got the chance to…”

The way she’s constructed the song reminds me greatly of Emmy the Great did with some of her ballads, as does the way she strings out the word ‘strangers’ as Emma-Lee Moss did on her ‘Paper Forest’ with the word ‘blessed’. I think it’s an example of melisma but I stand to be corrected on that.

Meanwhile, there’s a hint of the vocal style of her countrywoman Tuvaband, especially in the opening bars. I don’ think she’s using any technical manipulation and it’s rather alluring.

(And she has another little vocal trick as well, that channels Regina Spektor; listen out for it.

Add into the mix a guitar riff that is ever so slightly reminiscent of ‘Wonderwall’ and ‘Stranger’ is an intriguing introduction to yet another talented female artist from Oslo.

Like me, I’m sure you’ll be tempted to check out some of her other material.

Find her on:



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