Siv Jakobsen “A Temporary Soothing” (U OK?, 2020)

In conceiving her second full-length album ‘A Temporary Soothing’, Norwegian Siv Jakobsen ponders the age-old stereotype of artists suffering for their art. As an inherently happy person, albeit a self-confessed worrier and over-thinker, she considered the notion that she may have constructed sadness to allow her to write emotionally and well.

From this starting point the album ultimately developed into a broader look at her relationship with fear and nerves. As if to emphasise the point, album opener ‘Fear the Fear’ succeeds in both addressing these fears as well as laying down a marker for the style and feel of Jakobsen’s songs. With minimal acoustic accompaniment and subtle, gently building backing aligned to a dreamy vocal, there is an ethereal and atmospheric feel to the song. “Shake it off, I can’t, I won’t. Cause what would I write about if I don’t fear the fear inside my bones.”

The album title takes its name from a line in the sublime and beautiful ‘Only Life’, an ode to the effects of being with someone who is suffering mentally and how it seeps from them into everyone they are close to. Whatever the pace or tempo of the song Jakobsen’s gorgeous vocals are the constant on the album and here they captivate totally.

For more of the same, breathy, compelling voice with subtle, minimal accompaniment seek out the album closer ‘I Call It Love’, an unashamedly unconditional declaration of love or ‘A Feeling Felt Or A Feeling Made’ an album highlight featuring a meditative vocal, “I wonder if loneliness is a feeling felt or a feeling made.

Other songs venture, to varying degrees, into more up-tempo musical territory without ever taking anything away from those vocals that are the constant force on an album that is, in the main, just begging to be absorbed as a whole rather than dipped in and out of. By way of irony, the most radio-friendly track here is ‘Island’, a lively, catchy number that Jakobsen herself describes, almost apologetically, as “quite dancy”. If it is atypical of the album as a whole, then it is no less worthy of a place on this fine body of work.

Perhaps the overall feel of the album is best summed up in ‘Anywhere Else’ a song aimed at these uncertain times where a sense of uneasiness and smouldering anxiety is ingrained in so many of us.  For Jacobsen it means an anxiety and indecision that surrounds even the most ordinary and mundane daily task. As for so many artists, writing this song, this album, was, for Jakobsen, a cathartic process, a way of coming to terms and understanding her fears and doubts. From such self-doubt, comes great art. Immerse and enjoy.

Norwegian singer-songwriter feeds on her anxiety to produce a gorgeous piece of music
8/10

Author: Peter Churchill

Lover of intelligent singer-songwriters; a little bit country; a little bit folk; a little bit Americana. Perfect Day - early morning round of golf, afternoon at Dean Court watching AFC Bournemouth, evening gig at a cosy smallish venue with a pint and a packet of scratchings.

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