Track Review: Ida Wenøe: Värmeland

‘Wrap yourself up and get ready to journey through the snow-covered, magically musical comfort of Värmeland’

Re-intro to Ida Wenøe
Making a return to Listen to Discover after numerous #FridayFinds features, an interview and a track review in 2019, Ida Wenøe seeks to guide us as we go on a magical journey through Värmeland. Taken from her album ‘The Things We Don’t Know Yet’, an album which oozes with musical beauty, I can’t begin to imagine how hard it must have been to choose which track to release as a single. However, with two other tracks from the album having had the same done with them, this one – which in Ida’s own words “was inspired by a recording session in an old wooden house in Sweden, with snow so deep that the band had to transport their equipment there on bobsleighs” – feels completely perfect. So wrap yourself up, step outside and take in the beauty of Värmeland.

Track Review
Delicately making its way into our ears with a mix of picked acoustic guitar and mixed wind countermelodies, there’s instantly more than a hint of lilting folk to Ida’s latest offering. Feeling authentic, and as transportive as can be, the atmosphere is instantly one of beauty and combined with equally delicate tribal-esque drums and picked bass, it fills us with a multitude of musical delights. Completely making us forget whatever worries we have, it’s an early indicator of the trip we are to take as we travel through Värmeland. And, with Ida’s vocal joining the wondrous, instrumentally centred mix, she provides the perfect guiding hand.

Like her other releases, and the whole album from which this track is taken, Ida’s vocal is no ordinary vocal. It creeps. It whispers. It intrigues. In fact, it actually does even more than that, but within the sensations generated one thing stands out. The purity. Just like the authenticity of the opening, the lyricism is delivered in an uncomplex, unaltered way. Perfectly reflecting the words within, lines such as ‘Värmeland deep in the snow, Lost among trees and icy rivers’ glint like sunlight off crystal covered trees resulting in soothing musicality that connects and fully transports us. For the few, just reading this line may be enough for the transportation to occur. But hearing it softly sung, the many – if not all – will totally make the journey. Likewise, with the vocal and instrumental melodic content weaving around each other, the linking passage between the initial verses ensures further intrigue is brought.

Continuing the journey, on reaching the second verse a subtle, yet noticeable shift occurs bringing greater purpose. In no way is the softness gone though. In fact, this very thing is central to the purpose becoming truly evident. Interlocking and meandering around each other, the most wonderful harmonies begin to form and multi-tracked in a way that is so clever, both lines are given equal prominence allowing us to switch path as we choose. It really is a joy to truly hear how each line moves as often harmonies are used to add depth, but not always interest. However in achieving both, when these harmonies are enhanced on the reprise of ‘Oh oh where I go, Oh oh my shadow knows’ they bring warmth in abundance.

Wonderfully giving off a subliminal sense that we are to encounter huge swathes of snow covered ground, the beginnings of musical transformations occur. Bringing further subtle changes, deeper, drone-like vocals join the delicacy of Ida’s. Merging beautifully with everything else, these additional lines are surprising, welcoming and complimentary in equal measure. Still we are heading through the landscape. Yet while it would seem heavier, we are constantly encouraged to continue much like the band themselves did. Whether this is the full intention I’m not sure, but given the background to the track, it really is a sublimely crafted musical moment. As are those which help direct us back home. 

Setting up the first of the two concluding sections, the instrumental elements take hold of the vocal warmth and turn it into something magical. Lifting in sound, much more dominant guitar chords ring out among a much embellished variation of the opening drum rhythms. Containing gentle cymbal sweeps and snare, they fit seamlessly with the aforementioned motifs generating a real sense of momentum. Equally, with the vocals building on their own warmth, they too take hold of themselves and expanding from two-part harmonies, the perfect musical blending occurs. However, if this change in the atmosphere makes you long for home, you are about to be comforted.

Contrastingly set, the final moments of the track really are centred on softness. Sure the warmth that has just been created remains, but much like the instrumental imagery, here Ida delivers a similar intention vocally. Repeating the lyrics that have just been, and very much returning to the folky origins, each phrase entry is staggered, harmonised and delivered with the purity we love. But as though that wasn’t enough, perfectly depicting the final flakes of falling snow, each syllable becomes increasingly detached until they settle and form the most wonderfully warm closing sound. 

Follow Ida Wenøe on: Twitter and Facebook
Listen to and watch Ida Wenøe on: Spotify and YouTube
Find out more about Ida Wenøe at: Behind the Music: Interview with Ida Wenøe
and Track Review: Ida Wenøe: Another Kind of Love

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