CECILIE ANNA: New Bird (Fame)
Some of the best albums startle you with their simplistic arrangements, letting the vocals and piano and/or guitar pull you along. Think early Joni Mitchell, Elton John, Cat Stevens, This Mortal Coil, Anthony & The Johnson. Less is more, less allows the poetry of the lyrics and the tone of the vocals and instruments guide you on your musical journey. Add Norwegian siren Cecilie Anna's latest long player to the storied singer-songwriter circle. You may have read a recent review on this site of her outstanding album I'm Here from a few years ago, but this album may be even better.
This is music best experienced late at night or on rainy, gray winter days. There is melancholic beauty in each note that is tethered by her delicate yet dynamic piano and keyboard playing. Her mournful vocals suggest an unfussy clarity of divine origin. Moreover, the album opens with a church organ playing a lulling melody and then the reverential vocals of Cecilie drop in a half-minute later:
"When the night falls and I
Lay my head to rest
And the sky turns so weak
And falls into the night
I have done all I can to follow you
'Cause from your heart
A light shines on me"
We, as listeners, understand immediately that we've been invited to the temple of her soul.
On the title track "New Bird," one of the album's more uptempo confessional ballads, Cecilie shares her personal quest with us. Her piano augmented by her lyrical flute playing and clear vocals. This is an artist laying bare her feelings for her lover.
"Lay your head upon my shoulder
Lay your thoughts upon my day
Lay your hand upon my beating heart
I'll see you through the night
I'll see you through the morning light"
Our very own CC writer and UK poet extraordinaire Robert Cochrane along with Welshman Steve Hywyn Jones (Brodyr-Y-Ffin) supplied the evocatively simple, but brilliant ballad "Stranger Canyons;" lyrics by Rob, music by Steve. Just vocals and piano emoting:
"Consider what the years have done
Laughter still, but sorrows found
Follows us where tears can run
Over and over
Stranger canyons, stranger canyons"
Her voice seems to find solace in the truth of the lyrics; each note gaining strength by recognizing the ravages of time on one's life. The resignation that time marches on.
And on the very next song, "Winter Turns to Spring," she finds hope in the dawning of a new day, a new season of hope. Hope springs eternal when love is at stake, when love is a worthy reward, even one may have to wait for it across "borders" or years.
"I'll never leave you
‘Cause you never left me
Across these borders
Through heart and time
I'm still here
'Cause you never left me
I know I'll see you
As winter turns to spring"
Produced by Gisle Ostrem and Cecilie with a religious reverence throughout, New Bird nourishes the spirit with each listen. And it is a rare and beautiful bird, indeed.