JUNI HABEL hails from rural Southern Norway where she lives in a converted school house with her grandmother. It was here, in an old classroom, a bedroom and a hallway, that she recorded her new album ‘Carvings’, replete with songs described as “odes to life and death, the beauty of belonging and human kinship with nature.”
The supporting press release compares her music and lyrics to many people, some of whom I’ve never heard of, but I’ll give you my own take on it straight off. If I hadn’t read the label on the tin I would have believed I was listening to something off the recent album from her very own countrywoman Siv Jakobsen. Which is no bad thing. It helps to have a reference point at least and both have this ‘pastoral folk’ flair in spades.
Juni’s style is very similar to Siv’s; musically, lyrically, vocally and stylistically, and even more so on the previous single to this one, ‘Chicory.’
She explains that ‘Rhythm of the Tide’‘s “buoyancy… confronts feelings of a disconnection from nature after the inspiring words of Henry Thoreau (‘A lake is the landscape’s most beautiful and expressive feature. It is the earth’s eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depths of his own nature’).”
She says that image “provoked a poignant dream for me. My mother and I were walking through a dark jungle towards a black lake. The water was warm, everything so vibrantly lush around us; the trees, the water, the sky, we took in all the beauty because we knew it would be for the very last time, as the world would end the next morning”
That’s as deep as the lake and a tad depressing as well; morbid even. This isn’t easy listening.
The song (and video) kick off with a single note that could be the Om. Perhaps that’s the intention. Or perhaps they’re waiting for the aliens to play the five tones.
As soon as she settles into the acoustic guitar section (later backed by instruments I can’t decipher in the gloom but there could be a mandolin in there?) the song takes on a different form. It’s soothing, lullaby-like, soporific, yet she’s still able easily to convey an image of the way life is lived in what few rural preserves remain, and of which Norway has at least quite a few more then we do.
Oh, and here’s a thing. The single and album are out on a label, Basin Rock, which is located in Todmorden, just 10 miles or so from where I a now.
The album, which is out on 13th January, is, she says, “a vulnerable project, to strive for… creating something truly beautiful, to pour my soul into it”, and features a host of instruments including ‘borrowed’ ones such as pipes and bottles.
Video by: Malin Christín Longva and Stian Skaaden
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