Like her fellow Scandinavian sisters First Aid Kit before her, Norway’s Malin Pettersen grew up with a wanderlust for America and a deep love for its music. Her new album Wildhorse was recorded and mixed in Nashville and every song conveys an angelic Americana sound that would make even the toughest of cowboys swoon.
Surprisingly then we start not in Nashville but in the sunshine state of California, the song echoing a breezy sixties Laurel Canyon style. Hometown is equally gorgeous, an ode to leaving behind the small backwater you grew up in. It may be a classic theme but it sounds fresh thanks to Pettersen’s divine voice. Arkansas takes us back out to the new world, digging for diamonds and turning up a little gem of a tune.
Particles introduces an ache of sadness to the dreamy atmosphere of the album. The vintage style continues on Holding Lonely, written by one of her Nashville collaborators Misa Arriaga (ex bandmate and boyfriend of Kacey).
Let’s Go Out is so catchy and carefree, even if the lyrics end up being kind of depressingly ironic now because of how this hellish year has played out. On the ballad ‘I Don’t Care’ she sings of darkness and detachment from life, which feels all too real in comparison. Weightless also explores a troubled emotional past.
The album finishes with two of the most gorgeous songs you will hear all year. Wildhorse Dream is pure perfection, taking us on a journey into her search for meaning out in the wild blue yonder. A song about longing for adventure, freedom and another world really hits home just now. Final song Queen of the Meadow is a sweet, melodic, melancholic exploration of life and identity. Even death sounds like a blissful dream when Pettersen sings of it.
Many artists try and capture this sound, but few can make it sound so effortless. Wildhorse is a total dream listen from start to finish.