Hanne Kolstø shines bright on While We Still Have Light

While We Still Have LightHere in the UK we can look to Scandinavia, and admire its constituent countries for a number of different things: the economy, education, salmon and hair so fair it seems to have its own aura. It would be a shame, however, if we missed from this list Norwegian based artist Hanne Kolstø. Neither a salmon, nor the Minister of Education for Norway, Kolstø makes the list purely based on her musical ability, of which she would be to salmon what Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson is to humans, not a whale shark, but just really good at getting her message across. In other words, she’s pretty brilliant at writing songs.

Fifth studio album, While We Still Have Light, has been described by Kolstø as a "goodbye theme", and she certainly seems to capture the range of emotions you would expect to experience when saying a difficult goodbye, especially one that you know is for the best. This sentiment is made all the more pertinent once you consider that this will be Kolstø’s last album for a while. She undoubtedly set the bar high for herself, her previous work having been nominated for Spellemann Awards, but While We Still Have Light delivers on all fronts.

At its highest points, her music will fill you with the confidence that you could wear a cravat and people wouldn’t think you were doing it ironically, and at others, her sensibilities will grasp hold of you until they’re quite sure you won’t be able to recognise yourself once they let go. Operatic in nature, While We Still Have Light combines the pop appeal of Florence and the Machine with Grimes at her most intricate. String arrangements by contemporary classical composer and Grammy winner Eivind Buene complement Kolstø’s compositions throughout, the culmination of which is almost War of the Worlds-esque, especially on the album’s title track.

You can feel an undercurrent of anxiousness breaking through every texture, the distorted and at times skittish drums combine with the use of reverb to create a feeling akin to stepping out into the void. However restless the arrangements, there is still an air of hopefulness that lingers, which becomes particularly apparent in her choice of cadences on tracks such as “The Circle”.

At times, the use of guitar and bass brings balance to the delicate strings and synths, truly defining themselves as the gut of each composition. Hanne Kolstø definitely knows what sounds should be happening and when, meaning that if you were to speak about her for too long, you would probably end up saying something silly like, "She’s just such a singer-songwriter."

Release: 18th December 2015, Jansen Plateproduksjon

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