Here’s some music that’s worthy of your attention.
It’s by Silje Marsh — formerly known as Silje Leirvik.
Although Aware, shown in the above video, was apparently on YouTube back in 2020, the song appears on Whispers – Silje’s third album. Yes, these songs have been many years in the making, and this means that they have had time to mature.
I already knew of Silje’s producer, Rhys Marsh, having become something of a fan after reviewing three of his albums for The Progressive Aspect (Sentiment released in 2014, 2015’s The Black Sun Shining and October After All, from 2019), and I hear common – and welcome – musical strands.
Silje’s voice reminds me of the Sixties era singers, like Dusty Springfield, Sandie Shaw or perhaps Helen Shapiro. There’s a nostalgic appeal, but there’s more to it than this. This album may draw on inspiration by 1960s artists such as Scott Walker (before his bat-shit crazy punching a donkey phase), but it stands up on its own as a collection of rather splendid and contemporary songs.
I was talking this over with the voices in my head and we agreed that part of the appeal of the album is in its somewhat melancholic and at times, mysterious “feel”. I like singers who are all about the song, whose performances are unhindered by affectations such as fry (that thing I call “cracked voice”), and blissfully free from superfluous egotistical vocal gymnastics. In other words, Silje’s silky tones convey emotion and passion, but without artifice. Her voice beautifully complements the entire mood of the album.
Occasionally soaring and at times bluesy, Silje conveys a dark passion (something she clearly shares with Rhys) that blends perfectly with the cinematic chord progressions of the songs. For me the album infers occasional mild apprehension. It’s not foreboding, more… pensive. But there’s more to it than that. The whole album, clearly conveyed in a band context and lightly peppered with Mini-Moogish tones, still achieves a grand, orchestral style, echoing that of the more croony, artsy 1960s combos. Charismatic and cinematic, tracks like Flying Monkeys and the title track, Whispers, almost step into James Bond movie theme territory.
Am I suggesting that Mr. and Mrs. Marsh are channelling John Barry, because the DNA of Bond themes seems to run through some of these songs? Maybe, though one wonders what a Bond film featuring flying monkeys might be called… Emeralds Are Forever? From Oz With Love? I’m Licensed to Get You and Your Little Dog? Answers on a postcard, please.
My poorly conceived analogies with the Bond movie themes and The Wizard of Oz notwithstanding, surely this is enough to garner interest in Whispers?
Based solely on Flying Monkeys, it should be. It’s my stand-out track. And I’d definitely go and see a Bond movie with flying monkeys in the opening credits.
All of these songs, without exception, are sophisticated, the entire album, seductive, larger than life and smooth.
01. Would Anybody (3:36)
02. Black Hole (2:43)
03. Whispers (3:25)
04. Luci (3:51)
05. Aware (4:01)
06. I Am Free (4:31)
07. Once Upon A Time (5:02)
08. Glory (4:52)
09. Flying Monkeys (3:53)
10. Aware (3:38)
Total Time – 36:32
Record Label: Autumnsongs Records
Country of Origin: Norway
Date of Release: 21st October 2022