Review -I’m Here – Petter Lønningen, BT 2017
Unexpected ray of light in the darkness of winter
A little gem from Stord. https://www.bt.no/kultur/i/7l0bWw/uventet-lys-i-moerket
Cecilie Anna Rønhovde from Stord is probably an unknown name to most people. So far, this 33-year-old has only released one album previously, with her band Familieforetaket, and one single under her own name. However, there is just an ever so small chance this this could now change.
Her solo debut album is a strong, sharp and stylistically sound record, where catchy melodies, poignant lyrics and captivating moods are at the centre.
“I’m Here” is a deeply personal and meditative debut, stripped of any superficial platitudes. It is an album of simple effects, complex emotions and a strong vision, but needs a listener who is willing to give it time and space to breathe.
For this is a cautious album. It does not force itself onto the listener, but instead slowly ropes the listener in. Using the piano, different horn instruments and vocal harmonies it tries to say something meaningful about loss, relationships, strength and vulnerability.
Musically, Cecilie Anna could be compared to artists such as Nick Cave, Leonard Cohen, Maria Mena, Jenny Hval and Susanne Sundfør; not just because the album tackles some rather serious topics, at times accompanied by fairly dark melodies, but because it is characterised by a powerful storytelling voice with a strong presence in the lyrics.
Lyrics such as “Women bleed, men just work at daytime / they say sisters weep, boys just blow their brains out / they say babies cry to find out what their voice is / they say old folks die to find out where their souls hide.” speak directly to the listener, using simple words combined with a strong sense of empathy.
Cecilie Anna is a perfectly fine singer. Her vocal range is somewhat limited, at times she is a little too keen on using her breathing for effect, and her voice can sometimes feel a little too fragile for her melodies. However, the question is whether this really matters. You can be a technically poor vocalist, and yet sing in a way which truly captures people’s hearts and souls. Ultimately, it’s all about presence. The best singer is someone who can make their audience believe the words they sing, and you’d be hard pressed not to believe Cecilie Anna. She delivers her message with an unpolished honesty, straight from the heart, something which much more seasoned artists could only dream of.
This is a deeply personal album, in memory of her father. However, it is in no way private. Cecilie’s stories are very familiar and down to earth. It is also a slow tempo album, which takes its time, with little deviation along the way. Using so few effects creates a very special atmosphere. On the other hand, it can also make the album feel somewhat monotonous and long winded. It takes a considerate listener who is willing to make time to hear the stories this album is trying to tell.
There is usually no shortage of tasteful, slow-paced albums being released during the Christmas season, and this year is no exception. However, this time it may well be the less well-known artist Cecilie Anna who will impress us the most during this season of shorter and colder days. Her music is like a ray of light, guiding us through the darkness and warming our hearts.