Rhythm & Views

Frida Hyvönen

Swedish singer/pianist Frida Hyvönen's sweet voice at first makes you think of cabaret; her piano clinks, and the organ on "Djuna!" sounds like it was given up by a failing circus. "Someday when I'm not broke, I'll kiss my boys goodbye," she sings, and she sounds like she should be traveling the back roads of America, circa 1930, in a tattered dress.

Her ooohs at the end of "Valerie" quaver and quake, but then "You Never Got Me Right" begins, and Hyvönen starts to become something more than an unassuming nostalgic specter. Hyvönen's vocals get so loud when she sings "such a lack of taste," the microphones can't handle it; it's a punk song on blues piano. "Once I Was a Serene Teenaged Child" settles it: Something much, much deeper is clearly going on here. Hyvönen sings of the conflicting emotions that go hand in hand with sexuality: "You said a girl like me was torture for you / I didn't know what to do about it and / somehow it made me feel proud," Hyvönen sings.

Hyvönen's songs are dreamlike and nightmarish, contemplating getting outside of the flesh but still realizing there is no escape. "Envied I the flesh / if I let go of mine," she sings on "Straight Thin Line," and, "I went blind and ran my fingers on his face / See I have made him pregnant!" she sings on "The Modern." "Do you like the sound of steel on steel?" she asks on "Come Another Night," "I can make it with my heart!" Nothing is clear; everything is strange, and made even stranger by being set to familiar, plinking piano.

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