‘The Coolest Woman in Norway’ (thank the Norwegian Embassy in London for that one, not me!) returns with the single Stranger and her unique brand of folk/anti-folk music. It’s the first single to be released since her 2016 debut album Hold on Dreamer, which brought her and her band ‘Familien’ some success in Scandinavia, a trip out to China and a highly complementary article in New Yorker magazine, which of course ranks just marginally higher on the scale of influence than does TMB…
Anne Lise Frøkedal’s coolness was highlighted in the TMB review of her show at The Castle in February 2016 when on a freezing cold Sunday evening that followed two televised football matches featuring the Manchester clubs she endured a posse of ad-hoc flamenco dancers cavorting to her wistful, sometimes slightly psychedelic folk songs like their lives depended on it, without batting an eyelid. That sort of endeared her to me.
Stranger “contains traces of the west coast of Norway” according to Anne Lise and plenty of finger-picked electric guitar (she favours, if I remember rightly, a gold-coloured Telecaster), along with Familien’s own fingers and voices.
It’s the first of a series of standalone singles that will be released this year. It doesn’t differ dramatically from the tracks on Hold on Dreamer, having much the same variety of melody and deals with a similar topic. But there is considerably more instrumentation. Hold on Dreamer was patently minimalistic in comparison.
Stranger was written from the perspective of a young person, leaving behind their childhood and stepping out into the unknown. It is an adventurous song, and looks upon the future positively, but in a sense of leaving behind all you know in hope of what’s around the corner or over the next hill. It looks back on that urge to leave with nostalgia; how being a young dreamer is both a beautiful and naive thing.
Sometimes compared with Nico, there is certainly something equally haunting and fragile about Frøkedal’s voice.
Stranger is released on Friday, June 2nd via Propeller Recordings.
(Photo Credit: Vida Landa)
Bonus video: Frøkedal and Familien’s performance at the Øya Festival in Oslo, August 2016. This is the only known recording, courtesy of some obscure oriental website.