Live Review: Frida Sundemo – Jimmy’s, Manchester – 03/04/18

It seems like we’re never short of an enigmatic Nordic singer-songwriter or two. Norwegian star-in-the-making Sigrid recently took Manchester by storm and before that it was the angelic AURORA who was bewitching audiences in the city. You may not be as familiar with Frida Sundemo just yet, but she very well could be the next Scandinavian star to add to this distinguished list.

Opening for the Swede this evening are two local acts both offering something a bit different from one another. One man band Jack Traynor’s alt folk project Pale Green Things is first up and he serves up an intriguing and intoxicating brew full of cinematic landscapes concocted using only a shoebox guitar and a bit of technical wizardry. Musically, the outcome is a gripping affair and could be even more effective with more compelling vocals to accompany the imaginatively crafted musical tapestries.

Sally Caitlin is perhaps a more orthodox purveyor of the electronic pop/dance genre that Frida Sundemo could loosely be categorised under. Demonstrating an impressive range vocally, her songs unfortunately feel a tad too generic at times and one is left hoping for a bit more individuality. She introduces her final song as the sassy one and it is during this track when the Manchester lass doesn’t appear to be going through the motions so much. Perhaps the imminent Sally Caitlin reinvention we’re informed about will follow a similar, more distinctive path because her vocal talents are significant.

Frida Sundemo has been releasing various EPs and singles for a few years now but her international debut album only arrived towards the end of last year. Considering the record as an electronic dance record would be deceptive; it is a much more reflective and ultimately uplifting experience. Exploring her acoustic renditions of the record’s songs on Youtube for example reveals their humble beginnings, demonstrating a more considered approach to her craft. As illuminating as this is, what it failed to prepare me for this evening in Jimmy’s is how powerful this collection of songs actually are when presented in the more immersive, electronic style. ‘Islands’ opens the show in inspirational style. “We are Islands” Frida passionately sings, suggesting an introverted characteristic to proceedings but the cinematic stylings of the track swell and soar. There’s also an odd paradox to Frida’s vocals; there is a power in her fragility and it makes the hairs on the back of your neck stir.

‘Gold’ continues the effecting cinematic tones during it’s introduction, once again filling out into something much more substantial, thrilling but with a vulnerable element and it is this which makes Frida Sundemo an interesting artist. The brashness of the genre is absent and in its place is a tapestry of reflection and contemplation. That’s not to say that there isn’t any fun to be had because ‘We Are Dreamers’ follows and it’s a life-affirming anthem that deserves to be heard beyond the intimate confines of Jimmy’s basement.

‘Stay Young’ possesses similar themes and although perhaps lyrically simple and overly repetitive, the humanity of the song is unfeigned and it is this notion that ensures that Frida’s material maintains its substance, without tipping over into the generic. Life-affirming stuff.