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Tulle (Norway) – Jesus isn’t here, he’s on hiatus (sample track from the EP Onions)

You have to know your onions to keep up with the stream of releases from Norwegian female singer-songwriters; a species deadlier than the male.

That is definitely true of Tulle, who featured in NMC back in April. I had the choice of her or label mate MaVe tonight but while MaVe sounds interesting I was lured back into Tulle’s grasp like a fly into her web.

Tulle is an exponent of ‘Death Pop’ and if you didn’t already know that you would rapidly become acquainted with it just by reading the six title tracks off this EP, ‘Onions.’

You get a flavour of what to expect when you read her one line artist profile on Spotify too – “My mother says it’s my own fault”, which is a line from the single ‘Can’t be saved’. And didn’t Carrie (White) say much the same thing in the eponymous Stephen King novel and film?

When we ran the rule over that single back in April (it is also an EP track here) I remarked that despite the dispiriting nature of her song titles, and even this oddball sub-genre that she operates in, I didn’t find her work to be in the least bit depressing and that ‘Can’t be saved’ channels the sarcastically upbeat anti-folk/gospel sound on Jenny Lewis’ brilliant ‘Rabbit fur coat’ album from 2006 and with Cranberries overtones.

So what are we to make of the EP? The first observation is that the titles could be chapter headings from The Exorcist or The Omen. They are: ‘Oh Holy Father’; ‘Can’t be saved’; ‘Happy Birthday (Interlude)’; ’Jesus isn’t here; he’s on hiatus’; ‘Eulogy’; and ‘You’re scaring me’.

Not exactly bedtime reading for the kiddies.

I could easily have singled out any of the eerie, haunting, but sharply observational tracks as a sample one here. She’s like a Peter Kay female alter ego, noting everything and missing nothing but serving up what she sees with a deathly pallor rather than humour.

Even ‘Happy Birthday (Interlude)’ sounds like a eulogy. But then the track actually called ‘Eulogy’, while it contains some of the most despondent piano chords you’ll hear, will give you goose bumps as she ramps up the drama.

‘Jesus isn’t here, he’s on hiatus’ is a fascinating track, sung softly over a spoken part which I assume is a sermon and concluding with the funeral oration, what sounds like the soundtrack from ‘The Greatest Story Ever Told’ and a single, final bell.

The philosophy reminds me of that of the character in Flannery O’Connor’s novel ‘Wise Blood’, an atheist who forms the ‘Holy Church of Christ Without Christ,’ and which was the inspiration for US artist Weyes Blood (Natalie Mering).

While the final track ‘You’re scaring me!’ is the EP’s focus track it’s a bit of an outlier, a noise banger that harks back to her earlier singles, so I ultimately opted for ‘Jesus isn’t here, he’s on hiatus’ as the sample one.

I’ve already mentioned Jenny Lewis, and then Weyes Blood. Another artist she brings to mind is the (now regrettably retired) Emmy the Great, for the deftness of her lyricism and pointed religious references. If you are familiar with those three artists, try to imagine one cloned from all of them. Yes, she’s that good.

If that sounds too good to be true, it isn’t. And what’s more this lady can sing.

I confidently expect a BBC6 Music producer to pick up on this EP and to ensure it gets played over here, pronto. Tulle shouldn’t be on hiatus for long.


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