Anna Ternheim: Leaving On A Mayday (Verve Forecast) | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
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Anna Ternheim

Leaving On A Mayday

Verve Forecast

Nov 23, 2009 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


While Sweden's been one of the decade's most fertile musical grounds, its singer/songwriters have often gotten the short of end of the stick. Sure, José González gets some press, but how many other guitar-wielding Swedes can you name off the top of your head? Among those to have found great success at home—but far less here in the States—is Anna Ternheim, and though she's turned out a solid fourth offering, it may not stand out enough to make much of a splash stateside.

Leaving On A Mayday is often a sparse recording, with Ternheim's vocals pushed to the front while she's often backed by little more than bass and percussion, as on opener "What Have I Done" and "Damaged Ones." Elsewhere, "My Heart Still Beats for You" augments the formula with some mournful strings and plucked guitar, à la Laura Veirs, and the spare, windswept "Black Sunday Afternoon" throws in some tinkling keyboards for variety.

Despite all that, some of the disc's most successful tracks find Ternheim keeping it simple, as on "Summer Rain," which finds the songwriter alone with her guitar, save a few harmonized vocals. "You said I was a hole of desperate need/And no love in the world, not even yours/Could satisfy me" she sings on that track. Rather than overburden the song with different textures as on much of the rest of the album, the basic arrangement alongside those vocals—combined with the haunting backing vocals—make it the record's standout number.

Ternheim's won some high honors in Sweden, and she's certainly proven herself a capable songstress on past records. But for all the potential, little on Mayday is strong enough to stand alongside that track. (www.annaternheim.com)

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