Back around 2006, I was a fortunate guest at what might have been the world’s first streaming festival, with two full nights of Danish roots music. One of the performers was Eivør, who took to the stage solo and put on a mesmeric performance that sometimes became shamanic. By that time the Faroese (the Faroe Islands are part of Denmark *) singer-songwriter had made a name for herself, building a career that had seen her working with Canadian guitarist Bill Bourne, winning awards and becoming almost a household name in Iceland. Krákan, arriving in 2003, when Eivør was just 20, predates any of those strains of fame, is an accomplished second album comes from a period of great and glorious experimentation, backed by drums, guitar, and bass. Just reissued, it’s a chance to look back at an album that, is not only adventurous but a bit of a masterpiece.
In retrospect, a shadow of Portishead hangs over the music. The elements are right there in the opener, "Rósufarið," which broods and moves around its bassline – real acoustic mood music.
But while there are hints of Bristol, this is music swept by the wide North Atlantic, a Torshavn sound that offers a different, more unstudied and natural darkness. It’s the work of a natural songwriter who’s still finding her voice among her gifts. Everything is good, but some tracks really spark and take flame, like the title cut, which sets to music a traditional Faroese rhyme about the crow. It builds and builds, until the fractured electric guitar of Eðvarð Lárusson take off with wonderful shards of sound and dissonance that match the agony in the voice.
That bit of magic is there, too, in "Brostnar Borgir," a memorial to 9-11, where Eivør’s voice circles and rises, until she finally comes to the release of a full-blooded scream. It’s the only natural thing to do to express the grief. There’s nothing schooled about it, it’s just her reaction to the music and it makes the track into something very special indeed.
Since her early days of small groups and big bands, solo and with Canadian guitarists, Eivør has charted a peripatetic path. Even at her most mainstream, she’s never gone for the easiest, most obvious choice, and there’s plenty of interest in her recent work. But this reissue gives us a chance to look back to those early times when she was still mostly unknown and wildly questing.
I haven’t seen Eivør perform since 2006. But I’d guess that the presence is one thing she hasn’t lost. – Chris Nickson
Find the artist online
And if you are curious as to where her work has moved on to, here's something from her 2017 release, SLŲR.
And a live, isolation streaming concert from her home on June 28, 2020
Eivør has a new album coming in 2020.
* Editor's note: According to the their government, "The Faroe Islands are a self-governing nation with extensive autonomous powers and responsibilities within the Kingdom of Denmark."