To soothe means to relieve pain and discomfort, to have gently calming effect. On her new album Norwegian singer songwriter Siv Jakobsen offers us A Temporary Soothing, with songs exploring her own anxieties and offering us comfort through her beautifully created soundscapes.
The cover of the album has Jakobson floating in what looks like cold water, and these songs also feel like a sharp breath of fresh air. By the time you’ve swum to the other side, no matter how cold the water was when you first stepped in, you end up feeling warm and renewed.
And so she takes us on that journey beginning with Fear the Fear where she lies in bed ‘terrified of tomorrow’s light’. Haunted by ghosts and nightmares she can’t shake them off for fear she will have nothing to write about – a natural anxiety of artists everywhere. You can hear her voice quiver with uncertainty, even as the music sounds confident and assured.
Fight or Flight is a beautiful unravelling of atmospheric swirls. Here she tries to understand how to live, love and not let life overwhelm. Music helps.
Shine is such a gorgeous and uplifting song, beginning with just her quietly tender voice and then rising up to meet the light. The production of the whole album does a fine job of mixing of layers of music, like water lapping on the shore, the waves building slowly and never drowning the central fragility of her voice.
Jakobsen’s music has such emotive textures, on A Feeling Felt or a Feeling Made she sings so expressively, leaving breathing spaces between the words. The percussion and strings on this song are sublime.
Fraud, failure is another graceful, elegant swoon with some unexpected musical textures – here she adds more of her folk influences to the song. The title track also weaves those sounds in a brief interlude, a chance for a breather.
On Anywhere Else, she confesses to her fear of driving, using this a metaphor for everyday life. We are so precious, so breakable it’s hard to stay strong sometimes. There’s a moment in the song when the backing vocals join in and you remember how singing together can help us through.
On Island she increases the tempo, mixes some more beats into the song which works surprisingly well. By the end she sounds euphoric, free, like the tension has been released. Only Life is such perfect sigh of a song, it almost breaks your heart how beautiful she sounds.
Motecombe is another haunting instrumental which leads into the final track I Call it Love, which offers quiet hope for a positive future.
A moment of relief, even a temporary one, is all you need sometimes. An album as good as this can’t fail to restore and revive the spirit.
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