‘In the perfect blend of vulnerability and polyrhythmic joy, we are delivered a poignant reminder.’
Re-intro to Ida Wenøe
Capturing our attention back in early 2019 via the intimate, noir-folk sound of ‘Another Kind of Love’, it was little surprise that on hearing Ida Wenøe’s transportive single ‘Värmeland’, a feature would appear. However, what was a surprise – in the most delightful way possible – was to find a level of connection that not just equalled, but surpassed those previous sensations. Serving as the most perfect of introductions to what we can expect from Ida’s forthcoming album (out March 2021), ‘One Step’ sees her beautifully combine the showcase musicality experienced to date, and one note at a time, transform it into something more magical than ever before.
Delicately catching our attention with the sound of soft lilting acoustic guitar, the folk-centred influences that lie at the heart of the track are instantly delivered. Finger picked and overlapping, you feel your mind being soothed, your muscles becoming relaxed and your body developing a gentle sense of sway. Equally, with the emergence of soft-rock electric guitar, the soul inside you feels stirred. It’s a truly beautiful beginning and while it may only be instrumental at this point, you can guarantee that Ida’s vocals will only enhance these feelings further.
Proving this perfectly, the opening phrases that Ida gives us instantly captivate and connect on many levels. Initially it’s of course the intriguing, evocative and vulnerablity edged tone that she possess. One that projects more than it actually appears. But then your attention is turned to the lyrical content itself. Starting with the line ‘I’ve been walking in the dark, and I’m trying so hard not to fall’ it wonderfully captures the tracks intention of childhood innocence within a bigger world. However, connecting on a whole different level, the follow up phrase of ‘Been a funny time this year, and I’m waiting for it to be clear’ rings bells much louder than what we are hearing.
Continuing through this early vocal section, we are constantly treated to the magical musicality that we have come to expect from not just Ida’s tracks, but all Nordic artists of this ilk. Instrumentally here, it’s the way that lombardic rhythms seamlessly fuse with reserved, incredibly atmospheric textures. Vocally though, it’s the way Ida wonderfully word paints the phrase ’empty death’ by waiting for as long as she dare before completing it the fourth time. You see they are a special group of artists. A select group who bring with them a sound that’s equally special and present it in a way that is even more so. They are, if you will, the delicate risk takers of the music world.
Having had us cling onto every syllable in the first verse, on transitioning to the next, the atmosphere shifts slightly through the emergence of more dominant, yet still delicate elements. Initially comprised of piano and distant, distortion guitar, the melodies within each emulate the other wonderfully. Then, with piano removed after its brief appearance, new, oboe-esque lines emerge to provide contrasting motifs while the ensuing vocals become harmonised by both. In so little, there really is so much and with the increasing use of ethnic, tribal-esque percussion, what is it soon arrive gets musically foreshadowed beautifully.
Signalling a musical side step, where the story-filled lyrics have been continuous to this point, the vocals now take on an alternating form. Switching between the haunting melisma of extended vowels and syllabically set true vocals, it is, in itself, a wonderful combination. However, working in an equally successful way, the hinted percussive rhythms of earlier suddenly burst through and providing gentle, polyrhythmic joy underneath the existing elements, the atmosphere completely transforms.
Extending the magical nature of the track further, having moved through the aforementioned, momentum generating rhythmic content, projected and softened settings of the phrase ‘still alive’ guide us to the most wonderful modulation. Relying solely on the underlying harmony – due to the pitch of the leading vowel being maintained – you get little indication that any change is going to occur. Similarly, neither do you expect the warmth delivered by the soundscape-esque return of piano, haunting guitar and drums to touch you as much as it does.
Ensuring that we are taken back to the initial sensations felt ahead of the final moments, our focus gets directed to Ida’s soothing vocals once more via a sequence of phrases reflective of childlike innocence. Here though, in a new setting where shimmering tremolos glint like rays of sunlight on a lake, they somehow touch us more than anywhere else. Well that is until Ida, in the most lusciously set conclusion possible, gives us the poignant reminder that ‘everyday we’re one step closer to the end.’
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Find out more about Ida Wenøe at: Behind the Music: Interview with Ida Wenøe, Track Review: Ida Wenøe:Värmeland and Track Review: Ida Wenøe: Another Kind of Love
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