21 January 2016

Anna Ternheim - For The Young


I remember when I first heard Anna Ternheim, it was November 18 2007 in a venue called Fibbers in York; Anna Ternheim was the support act of Joseph Arthur and I was down there with my friend for his 30th birthday.  I had not heard anything about her before that day, but here I was listening to this petite lady sing and if I remember rightly (I could be wrong) she started with "Girl Laying Down" which was taken from her album 'Separation Road'.  It was a game changer for me and the rest of the set was just as beautiful.  I was amazed at how assured she was, her presence whilst being on stage along and that voice that would melt the coldest of souls.  I purchased two albums that night, both of which are signed (she was good enough to do this and talk for a few moments) and they are still in my collection.  But many moons have passed since that day and every now and then I always check to see if Ms Ternheim has released more music.  Now this was released in November 2015 and depending where you are in the world, is either her fifth or sixth album (in America, they have another record called 'Halfway to Fivepoints'); part of me is nervous beforehand as I hope it matches those early releases, but not in a way that just mirrors those past glories.  So let us see how it has turned out......

"Hours" begins this album with a feeling of being chased through a darken woods, there is an apprehension in the air as if something mysterious is being performed in the vicinity and you know if you stumble upon it that the world will never be the same.  The lyrics are even more delicious and full of mystery, as always open to interpretation and discussion as a story involving burning trees twist and turns along the way.  It is a very good opening that only gets better with repeated listens, it is not an instant hit and it needs time to unfold before you.  "Still a Beautiful Day" reminds me straight away of her work on 'Separation Road' and the song "Today is a Good Day"; the feeling of belonging and being at home is around you in abundance, it feels like a Summer's day (even in the middle of January when I am writing this in the North East of England).  Much like "Hours" it keeps delivering with multiple plays and the music is as stunning as anything else that Anna Ternheim has wrote before.  The guitars sound crisp & clear, the keyboards are like bells from heaven, the drumming keeps the pace beautifully and the vocals would melt the coldest of hearts.  Then we come to the title track - "For The Young"; this track has been responsible for me not getting much reviewing completed over the last week or so, this is something that does not bother me one iota when the song is this stunning.  A song about defences being held high, needing to be shown that trust can be established after some incident, being a bit reckless and a self-destructive tendency that borders on the perverse.  It has luscious strings, another beautiful set of lyrics, music that makes my heart sing with joy and has just really dominated my musical landscape since I first heard it - song of the album, hands down.

"Caroline" is the fourth song on the album is a gentle song about a lady who is selling dreams, but cannot find one of her own as she has lost sight of her original motives; it has an Americana feeling to the music and it mixes well with Ms Ternheim's Scandinavian roots to give a unique sound that is her calling card. It does not reach the dramatic heights in drama of "Still A Beautiful Day", but it is not that sort of song and it works much better as a small piece of a story that can be revisited in other songs.  "Walk Right in" is another beautiful moment on this record from the very first moment, it is a gentle song about love and trying to forget the past (or the future in some points); as you would expect it does not drop sub-bass sounds and high end guitar solos - it is another piece of subtle melodic folk that is designed to move the emotional side of the listener and it does this with style.  It is not the most energetic of songs to be honest, but it is an elegant number that you would expect from Ms Ternheim.  "Lonely One" is a dark beast of a song for me, with a reflective number that deals with a loner who is in need of help and is being offered assistance but lacks the trust in humanity to reach out for it.  It is one that a lot of people will be able to relate to in more ways than some people will be willing to admit, it is a really simple number that delivers in the same way that the previous track have.  It is built on a simple tune, with a slight edge to the guitar to symbolise the apprehension that is alluded in places; this gives way to gentler sounds when the angels are called upon.  It is a good song, might not be my favourite of the album yet it is one that I could easily listen to for hours and never want to skip it - that is the sign of a good song for me.

Now whilst this is not the paciest album, the mood does slow down even further with "Keep Me in The Dark" as it moves at the speed of a glacier in comparison to over tracks on this album.  A song about baring ones’ soul to another who is in love with someone else, it is an age old tale that has been written many times before and will be re-written as long as there is light in the sun.  It is a touching tune that builds to a gentle, yet beautiful ending and is one of the shining lights in this gentle album. "Only Those Who Love" brings back some speed to the album (not that "Keep Me in The Dark" was not a glorious song, but it is a slow number by anyone's standards.  Like the best percentage of this album, it is another love song to move the heartstrings and touch the soul; it feels like it could be made for the long summer nights where everything is possible, where all possibilities are real and nothing can be ruled out.  The music gives me chills and reminds me of songs I heard from various European movies in my youth, it feels as if it could be from any period from the eighties onwards and still be relevant today - songs like this are why I love music; you should not be able to guess when it was recorded, only that it is a beautiful piece of music.  The penultimate song of this album is "Don't Leave" and the sombre mood returns as the mood turns to pleading here, with a lover leaving and the other begging for them to stay.  The lyrical bite is complimented by luscious strings, gentle guitars, brushes on the drums and soft keyboard/piano that combines to make another song that will move the listener emotionally, what more can be said?  This really could have been the ending track of the album, but there is one more song on this album - "Just as Friends".  This song deals with a relationship that have ended romantically, but love is still there in terms of not wanting the person to come to harm and always wanting the best for the former partner.  It is a gentle moment to end the album with the guitar taking the centre stage of the tune, you are gracefully lead to the end as the melancholy runs over you.  It is the beautiful coda that this album required, it ends the album perfectly.

This is probably one of the gentlest albums I have listened to in years, it is refreshing to hear something as graceful as this can still be made in an age when the upper echelons of the music world that seems to be reserved for manufactured drones and music that mirrors each other with only the words slightly amended.  This album has refreshed me, the title song is perfection and each song is a ray of sunshine in the dark.  As a blogger it is a brilliant piece of art, as a fan it is her best album; it might have been released late in 2015, but this could be one of my favourite of 2016 as well.  Välkommen tillbaka Anna , har vi missat din musik......

9 out of ten - Almost perfect, almost perfect

Top song - For The Young

You can purchase the CD version of For The Young on Amazon here (there is also a link to the digital version on their as well)

You can also visit the Anna Ternheim website here (which has a webstore where you can purchase directly from the artist

You can follow the activities of Anna Ternheim on Facebook here

You can stream For The Young on Spotify here

You can stream For The Young on Deezer here

You can stream For The Young on Tidal here

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