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Jenny Hval - Classic Objects: "casts a potent spell"

Norwegian storyteller weaves another dreamlike web

Jenny Hval
(Image: © 4AD)

Although Jenny Hval has gained acclaim as both a novelist and a songwriter, it sounds as if her diaries would be just as compelling were she ever to publish them. There’s a typically journal-like feel to her lyrics on this eighth solo studio set, and allied to the warm washes of electronica surrounding them on Classic Objects, they’re as arresting as any printed narrative.

‘My mother came to the city at 21,’ she recalls on American Coffee. ‘When she had me the midwife looked her in the eye and said, “Poor baby you’re so scared.’’’ Elsewhere, the irresistibly moody synth clouds that introduce the title track reel the listener in tandem with the curious recollection: ‘There was a painter in my first studio space that I remember/She used to attach her own hair to her paintings/They were stacked in the hallway/Depicting faces, desperate but hopeful/ A row of death masks.’ 

Her voice, redolent of other Nordic dreamers such as Stina Nordenstam and Emiliana Torrini, adds further allure, and although the topline melodies can meander off into the ether sometimes, by that point Hval could be warbling the phone book and she’d still cast a potent spell.

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Johnny is a regular contributor to Prog and Classic Rock magazines, both online and in print. Johnny is a highly experienced and versatile music writer whose tastes range from prog and hard rock to R’n’B, funk, folk and blues. He has written about music professionally for 30 years, surviving the Britpop wars at the NME in the 90s (under the hard-to-shake teenage nickname Johnny Cigarettes) before branching out to newspapers such as The Guardian and The Independent and magazines such as Uncut, Record Collector and, of course, Prog and Classic Rock