We’ve had quite a lot of jazz and ambient electronica recently, and there’s plenty more out there too, believe me, so for a change I thought we’d have some straightforward Norwegian pop.
I’ve reviewed Dagny several times over the years and for a while I’d considered her, along with Amanda Tenfjord, once a label mate at Propeller Recordings, to be a sort of ‘nearly girl’, floating around on the edge of critical acceptance if not of stardom, without quite crossing that final frontier.
Both of them had their moments in the last couple of years though, Amanda with her performance for Greece at the Eurovision Song Contest last year, finishing eighth if I remember, and Dagny with a beautiful rendition of a song at the 2021 Memorial Concert for 2011 terrorism victims in Norway, that was ‘against the run of play’ as the football pundits might say, and one which was a delight to experience even in the sombre circumstances.
After that it was no surprise to me when she embarked on a sold-out Norwegian tour that lasted for over two months, followed by sold out headline shows in London, Berlin and Amsterdam, topping it all with an appearance on the main stage at Norway’s biggest summer festival Øyafestivalen.
This year she’s got a headline date at Oslo’s prestigious Spektrum Arena, and a series of shows, including in the UK, that she’s either headlining or supporting artists like Sting and Olly Murs.
Along the way she’s amassed over a billion streams and been nominated for six Norwegian Grammys.
I think we can safely say now that she’s ‘arrived,’ both quantitatively and qualitatively.
I took a look at some of the review quotes in the press release. I won’t name the sources for one liners like “Dagny provides a master class in shimmering Scandinavian pop” and “A dose of blissful synthpop…Dagny has all but perfected the genre” (and there are others of the same ilk) but readers will know not to expect that from me.
What I will say is that a fair few of her songs are of the break up variety or they anticipate break ups (I reviewed one called ‘It’s only a heartbreak’ a couple of years ago) and this one is no different. She describes it as “diving into something, even though you have that gut feeling that it’s never going to end well. It’s a bit like the first tequila shot at a bar; you know where the night is headed, but you do it anyway.”
(If she can afford multiple tequila shots at a Norwegian bar, good luck to her!)
At the same time she clearly relishes the challenge. The image on the audio video demonstrates how much she enjoys taking risks, with a little playful fire eating.
“Bittersweet/Always had a taste for the bitter sweet/Recklessly/I run towards the danger/When it’s close to me…
Nothing’s like a heartbreak in the making/And I’d do it again and again and again and again Baby, I’m yours for the taking…
Have you ever seen how there’s always beauty in a tragedy.”
It’s almost Shakespearean.
The first lesson is that she can write a song, although she had some help here from co-writers Oliver Lundström and Maria Hazell. This one is catchy from the ascending chords it kicks off with (pretty much the same ones as The Verve’s ‘Bittersweet Symphony’), to a sustained strong melody that never flags, to the acoustic guitar that plays it out.
The second is that she can sing. Very well. That much is obvious.
The third is her ‘Je ne sais quoi.’ That sounds like a cop-out but I’m serious. There must be thousands of wannabe female singer-songwriters who wish they could produce the package she has here, one which puts her in the upper echelons of European pop artists, never mind those of Norway.
The only crumb of comfort I can offer is that it took her some time to perfect her craft and I believe several other critics think that too.
But she did eventually, just as they can too.
‘Heartbreak in the Making’ is out now via Little Daggers Records.
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