mon 26/07/2021

Album: Frida Hyvönen - Dream Of Independence | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Frida Hyvönen - Dream Of Independence

Album: Frida Hyvönen - Dream Of Independence

Forensic, unflinching accounts of change and loss from the Swedish singer-songwriter

Frida Hyvönen's 'Dream Of Independence': probably to be taken as literal

Track two on Dream Of Independence, the new album from Sweden’s Frida Hyvönen, is titled “A Funeral in Banbridge”. An account of attending a funeral in, indeed, Banbridge, County Down, Northern Ireland, it’s bright, melodically jaunty, piano-driven and moves along at a fair clip.

But there’s a disconcerting disparity between the buoyant arrangement and the lyrics. The direct, almost deadpan, voice sings a rolling melody. “A funeral in Banbridge/ I took the train here/ From London/ Through Wales/ Beautiful day/ I had a salad, I had a drink,” it begins. The song is a diary entry recounting thoughts of the unnamed deceased – “they brought you back in a casket/ Once you are dead it’s hard to object” – the people encountered, the memories stirred, reactions – “He wanted to be buried in Berlin/ that’s his home” – and the aftermath: getting “a ride to Belfast Central in a car full of dog’s hair.”

If “A Funeral in Banbridge” is taken as literal, the rest of the first album in five years from Hyvönen is probably thus too. The intense “Face” assesses the effects of age, “14 at 41” recounts a surprise encounter with romance at age 41. Throughout Dream Of Independence’s accounts of change, losing and loss, the mixture of reportage and reflection is akin to a refraction of Karl Ove Knausgård’s autobiographical writing: forensic and unflinching. Sympathy and universality are not sought. The overriding tone is “there it is, this is what happened.”

None of this lyrical dexterity would be impactful without it being integral to equally strong songs. As per Hyvönen’s previous albums, Dream Of Independence has a Seventies feel: Hunky Dory David Bowie, Neil Young when sat a piano, the intimate side of Elton John, Randy Newman, Judee Sill – though Hyvönen’s voice is her own, all come to mind. Remarkable, and an early candidate for 2021’s album of the year.

'Dream Of Independence' is akin to a refraction of Karl Ove Knausgård’s autobiographical writing

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Average: 4 (1 vote)

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