Thursday, December 15, 2011

Cd Review : Marit Larsen "Spark"

So I've always wanted to write cd reviews. I find the experience of listening to a cd both enchanting and incredibly rewarding. Being able to connect with the artist in such a delightful and beautiful way is almost always enchanting. Upon discovering Marit Larsen's new cd "Spark", I knew that this was the cd I wanted to start with. I hope you enjoy my first non-fiction piece here!

Marit Larsen's "Spark" - By Matti McLean

There are few artists I hold in such reverence as Marit Larsen. I have been a fan of her unique voice since she was one half of the musical duet M2M with Marion Ravn, but have also had the unique privlage of growing up alongside her music. From her early days as a pop star, to her excellent solo cds (Under the Surface – 2005 and The Chase – 2008 respectfully) I have grown alongside her and her unique portrayals of love, loss and life. All this leads up to her latest, and in my opinion, her finest cd to date, “Spark” which was released this November.

“Spark” is a much different cd than her previous two. Marit Larsen has always been defined in my mind by a subtle, beautiful voice that was as poignant as it was exciting. Her lyrics almost always played in sharp contrast to her light and joyous melodies. In opposition to her bright, playful melodies, she arms her poignant lyrics with a sense of impenetrable optimism that seeps through every fabric of her writing.

In “Spark”, we see a more mature outlook on life. Marit sings of harsher realities, more troublesome problems, and all things considered speaks in a much more mature voice on more mature problems. While issues of love and life have been discussed in her previous albums, in “Spark” they contain a much more potent and bittersweet message. The songs this time are gentler, and have a much harsher, lived in quality to them. For the first time, Marit seems to embrace her pain and the heart aches of growing up. Her songs have a new haunting quality to them that is both shocking and cathartic.

In typical Marit Larsen tradition, upon my first play through of her cd, I was almost disappointed. “Spark” initially lacked the quick and easy catchy tunes of “Under the Surface” and initially I thought it lacked the complexities of “The Chase”, but as time went on and I spent more time with the cd, I realized that “Spark” could be her finest and most complex cd yet. The messages of the cd and the songs run much deeper than I could have initially anticipated and as a result, Marit has crafted her finest cd she has yet created.

Some of her finest songs on the cd deal with issues of past relationships, which is an issue that I feel rings particularly close to my life right now. The songs “I can't love you anymore” and “Last night” could be among “To and end”, “Fuel”, “Walls” and “Solid Ground” as the best songs in her repertoire. Her voice echoes more true when she sings with an air of mellancholia, and it's a tone that seeps through her album from the bittersweet opening of “Keeper of the keys”, to the reminiscent ending of “That day”. Her lyrics are reminiscent of Jewel, Joni Mitchell, Stevie Nicks and Sarah Mclachlan all rolled into an etherial voice that carries the songs with such emotion that they become richer with each subsequent listen.

The cd is not without it's faults. Her first single “Coming home” initially lacks the killer hooks of “Don't save me” and “Only a fool”, but despite this the melodies are undeniably catchy, and the lyrics surprisingly sweet providing a nice contrast to the heavier lyrics of other songs on the album. “Have you ever” is a strange offering, pairing an undeniably peppy tune with a somewhat depressing subject matter in a way that is shockingly similar to some of her earlier songs, and “Me and the highway” and “Don't move” seem to be almost out of place on this album. At the same time, their levity is almost needed as the album would be almost depressingly heavy without their infectious hooks.

Overall, “Spark” provides a unique experience that is the logical next step for Marit Larsen. The lyrics are bolder and more personal, the package is more polished and the overall effect of the album is one of heavy emotional turmoil, wrapped in a beautiful package of excitement and bittersweet memories. I have often found emotional catharsis in Larsen's music, and am pleased to find myself continually enrapt in the soulful emotional bliss of her growth in “Spark”. If you are a fan of folk or haunting female voices, I cannot recommend this cd enough.

1 comment:

  1. Honestly, for me, Under the Surface has the complexities, while The Chase has more the catchy tunes (If a Song Could Get Me You is the epitome of Marit's catchy songs). But there are some things I do agree with you. I think with Spark, it takes a while to disgest because there's a lot of expectations of Marit because she's a really great musican and artist.

    Spark is not my favorite album of Marit (that title is taken to UTS) because Spark is a little bit to slow and falls back on more on common topics when comparing to the other two pervious albums, especially UTS; but Spark has more relatable topics which is probably why people like it a lot. E.G. Let's be honest, how many times have you heard "Oh I can totally relate to Under the Surface (the song)!" (excluding me LOL) than to her newer songs such as "Have You Ever"? A song about "falling in love with someone who has fallen in love before" that comes with slight jealousy and fear of being compared is not something you hear a lot, for example, songs like "A Lips of An Angel" by Hinder or "The Way I Loved You" by Taylor Swift are comparing the current partner to the ex--which Under the Surface conveys a beautiful POV of the person who is the one being compared. So the point I am saying is Spark doesn't hold the uniqueness to UTS or TC, but yes, it contains a "bittersweet message" that protays "on harsher realities". But when you have songs like "Poison Passion" or "Recent Illusions" and unreleased songs such as "Walls/October", you can really tell Marit had a rough time during UTS, which concludes to when you state, "Marit seems to embrace her pain and the heart aches of growing up."

    In conclusion, Spark is more like growing out of her heart ache and "maturing up" that a lot of people can relate to, but the lyrics and music aren't my favorite when compared to style choices of UTS or some songs of TC. None-the-less, Marit composed a beautiful album with the perfect title to convey the messages of each song. :)