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Lummu (Denmark/Switzerland) – Tell you a Story (track from the album Elephant Love Song)

Lummu is billed as Swiss/Danish but as trio leader Adina Luumu’s (Adina Friis) ‘roots’ are in Denmark I took the liberty of swapping the countries around.

I couldn’t figure out at first whether she was a singer-songwriter/composer or whether Luumu is a band but now it’s a case of alles klar, and I’m happy to report that she is joined by Simon Iten (double bass, synths and “sound tinkering), and Andy Schelker (drums, percussion) – both Swiss – as well as an eight-piece band which adds flute, bass clarinet and a string quartet.

Their third album, ‘Elephant Love Song’, was released on 10th March, which is right on the margin for how far we’ll go back (on account of how many releases there are every single day right now) but I’m happy to do it because they’ve hit on a peculiar mix of jazz, folk and chamber pop throughout this album that you’ll rarely if ever experience elsewhere.

That multitude of releases is also the reason why I’m sticking with a sample track rather than the full album and in this case I chose the third track, ‘Tell you a Story’.

It has the most plays on Spotify (so possibly was released as a single) but I’m more attracted by the subject matter. The album, which is generally about ‘life’ as she observes it according to Adina, and more specifically about matters as varied as subtle societal criticism, miscommunication (does that mean fake news?) the unforgettable first day of the Covid lockdown, personal relationships and an ode to a friend, zeroes in with two songs (‘The hope of fools’ as well as ‘Tell You a Story’) on the thorny subject of climate change.

Why ‘thorny’? Well as regular readers will know I don’t fully subscribe to the prevailing climate change philosophy, which makes me probably unique amongst music writers and it concerns me that not a single serious song has been written that attempts even to put forward an opposing position, versus hundreds of others that adopt the climate change tack.

I’m thinking about maybe something on the lines of Billy Joel’s ‘We didn’t start the fire.’

But as readers will also know I do not ever seek to denigrate climate change songs. Everyone is entitled to their view and what interests me is how the ‘message’ is put across.

In this instance Luumu has chosen to do it by way of something not far removed from a nursery rhyme, perhaps even a lullaby, sung to young children. It has a magical, mythical feel about it, emphasised through instrumentation like a glockenspiel (or it could be a xylophone) as a story is told through song.

In Manchester where I live, there is a museum, the Peoples History Museum, which tells the story of how change was ‘forced’ by the vox populi, by way of the Trades Union movement, the Suffragettes, and other radical social change instigators that the place has always been full of. Heavy topics for children you might think.

But they’ve found a way of doing it that enraptures children and I might say that the way Luumu have presented this song they’ve found a method of transposing that ability into music.

There are some lines I’m a little dubious about, such as,

“All the past has told us is how we never should react/We incline to hold position even against the facts.”

The first part is true. We learn from the earliest schooldays not to ‘question’ and that is even more evident now in higher education.

But the second part introduces the concept of the ‘fact’. What exactly is a ‘fact’ these days when fact checkers are fact checking fact checkers? Who can be trusted?

Then there is “It is not the end if we destroy our inheritance.” I guess that refers to the cancellation of history. But history itself has surely taught us not to do that.

All-in-all it is a highly philosophical piece, with an underlying Nordic melancholy to it. A musical ‘noir’ if you prefer. And yet, on this song at least there is an attached Gaelic flavour to it as well.

The musical interpretation here is minimalistic, the flute outro could be Peter Gabriel circa 1973, but other tracks get the full orchestral treatment.

But those other tracks you’ll have to discover for yourselves…

The album is released by Tourbo Music.

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