Anna Ternheim - The Night Visitor
Just like that skinny, lanky Northern Brit-pop bloke once said; "do you remember the first time?" Yes I do. It wasn't as good as the times afterwards, but you certainly never forget the very first one. My first time with Anna Ternheim (so to speak) was a moment of almost absolute aural orgasm. A video of the lady in question along with several other ladies in question doing what they do best; singing beautiful Scandinavian folk a cappella. The song is called 'Summer Rain' and features vocals from Anna (obviously) Nina Kinert, Ane Brun, First Aid Kit and Ellekari Larsson of The Tiny. The harmonies are so perfect and the performance is so flawless that it feels as if you're being spirited away by Heaven's choral angels of ecstasy. Notes hang in glorious echo, vocal refrains swoon, and, the focal point of the whole magnificent, almost religious, experience is the angelic vision of Anna Terheim. If it sounds like I'm in love, then it's because I actually was. But it's easy to fall in love with your first, isn't it?
The Night Visitor is Ternheim's fifth studio album, but she has been releasing material since the late nineties, not to mention the slew of awards she has picked up in her native Sweden; a Swedish Grammy for best newcomer in 2004, best female artist and best lyricist in 2006, album of the year in 2009 along with another Best Female Artist gong. So is this effort going to witness a similar cleaning up of awards at the 2012 Swedish Grammys? Probably, but it certainly doesn't inspire the initial excitement of her early career. After the wild intercourse of that 'Summer Rain' experience, The Night Visitor very much seems like the habitual, courtesy screw of a married couple too bored to experiment, yet too proud to admit that the spark has gone.
The album is a gentle affair; chiming acoustic guitars, lighting brushed percussion, the odd fiddle. Musically, it's a very well trodden path, but what about lyrically? Tales of strong female characters fighting against the troubles of despicable men ('Lorelie-Marie'), stories of weak female characters foolishly standing by their despicable men ('Ghost Of A Man'), walking away from testing relationships ('Solitary Move') and walking away from nothing in particular ('Walking Aimlessly'). So, it seems that The Night Visitor is primarily concerned with troublesome relationships and travelling on from them. It's a break-up album with acoustic guitars essentially. Sounds familiar? Well it should do, it's only an art form which has existed for hundreds of years.
It would have been better if Anna Ternheim has explored her apparent heartache through less traditional (or maybe looking back to the wonder of 'Summer Rain' even more traditional) means. Not that Anna Ternheim should have explored the metal-dubstep crossover territory, or even the plugged-in-Judas corners of folk, but it just seems that this finger-picking acoustic, harmonised vocals, soppy love song stuff is getting fairly tired. I'm sure fans of Anna will love it, so will the Swedish Grammys, but I'm after something a bit more exciting. Oh well, I can always return to the refreshing splendour of 'Summer Rain'.