Sometimes Stina Nordenstam makes me feel sick.
I think that is why I tried to give this album just a cursory listen at first, washing the dishes and thinking of other things. I thought it sounded pretty ordinary on this occasion; nice and pleasant enough, with perhaps a tad too much recycling from the last album going on. It's just a CD with some good music, I thought. Nothing to get worked up about.
The album still needed to be reviewed properly, though. Knowing I'd get hooked again, I brought it with me on a bus trip and really listened to it, all the way from the very first two lines:
”They put a needle once in my spine, it took them so long to find it”. I had a spinal fluid test taken this summer. They had to make several attempts before locating the right spot. It really hurt. Still it didn’t hurt anything as much as this other kind of test, where they saw a little hole into the bone of your actual spinal cord and take a sample. A friend of mine recovering from cancer experienced this. That hurt, he said, more than anything else in the world.
Why am I writing about this? It just can’t be helped, it's exactly the kind of thought that the music of Stina Nordenstam evokes. Her music is as naked and vulnerable as a patient waiting for the needle to be inserted. Every line of lyrics resonates in a stark and terrible reality; inescapable and boundless. And yet she makes it sound so damn… beautiful. ”Hold on to nothing, don’t count on anything” she sings In ”On Falling” with that dreamy voice that is almost reassuring. If the last lines of the album didn’t hold a sliver of hope, ”The good days will come, I just need the time”, I would hardly dare to play it again.
Musically ”The World Is Saved” sees more jazz elements introduced into Nordenstam’s music while following the relatively accessible pop style of ”This Is Stina Nordenstam”. The harsh soundscapes of "Dynamite" have been definitely scrapped in favour of an instrumentally diverse and dynamic sound that doesn't shy away from classical elements. Some of the most celebrated stars of Swedish modern jazz handle the brass duties on the album, and the arrangements of brass, piano, guitar and strings are sparse and thoroughly elegant. I’m sure some people have a problem with Nordenstam’s frail and, as some would say, girlish voice. It is rather special, as is suitable for someone delivering a rather special message. It just happens to be a message that I can't always handle.
Sometimes Stina Nordenstam makes me feel sick.