mon 22/04/2024

Oh Land, Heaven | reviews, news & interviews

Oh Land, Heaven

Oh Land, Heaven

Nanna Øland Fabricius could be the next great Nordic pop export. So why can't we buy her album?

Oh Land: not a Lana Del Rey-type constructSebastien Dehesdin

Oh Land is Nanna Øland Fabricius. A proper pop star in her native Denmark, based on last night's show there’s no reason why she can’t be one here too. She’s been living in Brooklyn and the international market is clearly in her sights. The highlights from her packed gig at Heaven - "Sun of a Gun", "Wolf & I", "White Nights" and "We Turn it Up” - are sweet confections that ought to prove irresistible. Providing, that is, they’re served up correctly. But more on that later.

Fabricius’s quality electropop is heavy on memorable singalong choruses and staccato vamps. It wasn't helped by Heaven’s boxy, dead sound, which flattened the entire concert and made this a patchy showcase. With the exception of "Helicopter”, all of her second album, Oh Land, was aired, alongside “Deep-Sea” and “Heavy Eyes” from her 2008 debut Fauna and a surprise cover of The National’s “Blood Buzz Ohio” as an encore. As “Voodoo" began a woman to my right said “Rihanna”. Perhaps, but Oh Land is really closer to Robyn, with the dance leanings replaced by warmer, moodier melodies. Anyway, you can’t imagine Rihanna smilingly expressing surprise about being called “love” in London. Fabricius said people in Denmark don’t say that they’re in love, even when they get married.

Fond of flinging herself about as if buffeted by wind, she then deposited herself on the ground like Dorothy being dumped after the storm. The theatrics were low-level, spontaneous and endearingly gawky: wearing a dress with giant teddy bear heads for sleeves during the first four songs was hardly a badge of seriousness. She introduced her drummer and keyboard player twice, apparently having forgotten she’d already done so.

Oh Land album coverYet Fabricius knows music and performance. Her mother is an opera singer, her father a professional organist. She trained as a ballet dancer. Fauna was all her own, written, produced arranged and played entirely by her. Oh Land (pictured right), however, is hard to view in the same way, especially as she’s not a Lana Del Rey-type construct. Splattered across its credits, both for production and as Fabricius’s co-songwriters, are Evan Bogart (whose other credits include Britney Spears), Dan Carey (Christina Aguilera, La Roux, Hot Chip and Kylie Minogue), Jimmy Harry (Pink and, most recently, Madonna’s W.E. soundtrack), Dave McCracken (John Legend, Kelly Rowland and Beyoncé) and Lester Mendez (Shakira). You get the point. Oh Land is a thoroughly modern pop album, and one designed for success.

There’s nothing wrong with any of this, but there’s a bizarre slippage between Oh Land and the UK. Oh Land was issued in Denmark and the US last March and went top five in her home land, but British release dates came and went. It still hasn't been officially issued in the UK; the copies available on Amazon are from continental Europe. In the US and UK she’s toured supporting Katy Perry, who'd specially requested her. A significant leg up. She appeared in British “ones-to-watch” listings in January – that's January 2011. This show was a rescheduling of one cancelled last November. It's impossible to figure out what's going on.

Nonetheless, music biz intrigue notwithstanding, last night was sold out. The audience knew the songs. Arms swayed in the air to “Human”. Fabricius had found out via Twitter that a girl called Kelly had worked out moves for “Rainbow”. Up she came, on stage. Fabricius has a bond with her fans. Almost solo on “Wolf & I”, she shone. Oh Land still doesn’t have a release date set, but on the evidence of last night it doesn’t matter. She already has her audience. Hopefully, it’s onwards and upwards.

Visit Kieron Tyler’s blog

Watch Oh Land perform "Wolf & I"



Was very near the front so the sound seemed fine to me. Loved every second of the concert. I'm still smiling now thinking about it!

Lucky you! I was behind the sound desk for most of it, obviously the wrong choice.

Add comment


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters