What does it sound like?:
Firstly, I confess to knowing nothing about Ebba Forsberg until I bought this cd. Leonard Cohen songs have been with me since I was 15 so I was intrigued plus I liked the cover. Ebba Forsberg has made a name for herself in her native Sweden both as a singer songwriter, an interpreter of others songs and also as an actress apparently. Something I assume our Swedish contingent can attest to.
So onto the music – it is absolutely beautiful. She has a lovely crystal voice and the sparse jazzy instrumentation lends itself perfectly to the largely contemplative mood that the songs convey. She has gone for some of the more well known of Lens songs coupled with some lesser known. We get great versions of both Suzanne and Sisters of Mercy from his debut masterpiece but it is the closing Who by Fire that really lights up proceedings. The backdrop is sensual woodwind and keys, brushed drums and largely acoustic and Spanish guitar. All of the interpretations drift away from the originals mostly in a subtle way, occasionally more radically. If I had one criticism it is that she includes Hallelujah which by now has become over familiar. Most versions of it stay faithful to the original and, indeed,the melody is so strong that to deviate too far away would surely be an act of vandalism. Ebba stays true until the closing parts where she adds a military drum and a lone horn which gives it an elegiac finale. Very good but would have preferred perhaps The Partisan or One of us cannot be wrong or even Tower of Song which would have suited her perfectly.
Tackling the songs of one of the Worlds greatest songwriters is a brave thing to do. Jennifer Warnes did it all those years ago with a modicum of success but to my ears this is a far more successful attempt and with a lot of reverence. It was a punt well worth taking and I am glad this music found its way into my home.
What does it all *mean*?
Not all interpretations are a cash in. I doubt this will make Ebba a household name but it should do- she has a great voice and employs a great band.
Goes well with…
Late nights, cosy log fire and a couple of glasses of red. Equally Sunday morning drowsy attempt at facing the weather outside.
Might suit people who like…
If you don’t like Leonard Cohen it’s obviously not for you. Me? I love him and I love this.
In terms of vibe I would say Norah Jones but hope by saying this that it doesn’t detract from people wanting to seek it out because it really is fabulous.