Sunday, 13 January 2013

Artist profile: Hanne Sørvaag (Norway)

If you liked the direction Jewel’s been taking with her recent country releases, but wished they were just a bit, you know, better, then Norwegian singer Hanne Sørvaag’s new album might be just the thing for you.

Sørvaag has been active on the Norwegian music scene for a number of years, but has only recently started to move into country music. She’s also a successful songwriter; her most familiar song to many Americans will probably be ‘My Destiny’, which was butchered by Katherine McPhee in the final of American Idol in 2006.

In 2011 she took part in Norway’s Melodi Grand Prix, reaching the final with ’You’re Like a Melody’, which at the time I described as the kind of song that would fit right in on contemporary country radio. The year before she wrote the competition winner, ’My Heart Is Yours’, arranged as a big ballad for Didrik Solli-Tangen, but interpreted by Sørvaag herself on her album in a much more intimate form, with tones reminiscent of Dolly Parton’s gentler moments.

Last year, as well as winning Skal vi danse, the Norwegian version of Dancing With the Stars/Strictly Come Dancing, Sørvaag released her fourth album, All Is Forgiven, her first truly country release. Recorded in Nashville in collaboration with several Music City songwriters, and produced by Jørn Dahl, the Norwegian behind Kurt Nilsen’s excellent Rise to the Occasion from 2008, the album has received critical acclaim and climbed to the 14th position on the Norwegian chart.

Among the best songs are ‘I Hope I Dream’, a delicate rumination on what we achieve in life sung in a duet with Tobias Stenkjær, and ‘Something About a Song’, a natural successor to ‘You’re Like a Melody’, which has a beautiful, thoughtful mood conveyed through both the simple arrangement and the honesty in the lyrics – there’s something that everyone will be able to identify with in this song.

The lead single from the album was the pop-country ‘Days That End With Y’, which brightens up a slightly tired lyrical trick with a bright, breezy arrangement and genuinely wistful vocal.

If you have Spotify, you should be able to listen to the full album below:

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