Rebekka Karijord - Mother Tongue album review

Deeply personal diary from Norwegian songstress.

Rebekka Karijord - Mother Tongue album artwork

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One of the most striking Scandinavian records in recent years was 2012’s We Become Ourselves, on which Rebekka Karijord’s literate blend of sombre folk and percussive avant pop marked her out as a songwriter of some standing.

If all things life and death served as that album’s broad construct, its follow-up is altogether more confidential. Mother Tongue charts the birth of her daughter, its drama heightened by her premature arrival and the emotional trauma of the weeks spent monitoring her survival. The title is entirely apposite, given that the melodies Karijord sang to her infant during the weeks in hospital form the core of this appropriately womb-like collection. Aided by Mariam Wallentin of Wildbirds & Peacedrums and ex-Soundtrack Of Our Lives man Martin Hederos, Karijord takes a mostly minimalist approach. Prepared piano is the album’s regular heartbeat, with brushed cymbals and impressionistic acoustic guitar. There are traces of Julia Holter and Ane Brun in the brittle delicacy of Morula and Waimanalo, or the discreet progtronica of Home. Best of all is The Orbit, which uses a two-note piano riff as a launch for a burst of harmony-led rapture.

Freelance writer for Classic Rock since 2008, and sister title Prog since its inception in 2009. Regular contributor to Uncut magazine for over 20 years. Other clients include Word magazine, Record Collector, The Guardian, Sunday Times, The Telegraph and When Saturday Comes. Alongside Marc Riley, co-presenter of long-running A-Z Of David Bowie podcast. Also appears twice a week on Riley’s BBC6 radio show, rifling through old copies of the NME and Melody Maker in the Parallel Universe slot. Designed Aston Villa’s kit during a previous life as a sportswear designer. Geezer Butler told him he loved the all-black away strip.