Luna Kafé e-zine  Luna Kafé record review
coverpic flag Norway - Full Moon 111 - 10/17/05

Merry November
Since We Are All Captains
Osito Records

Autumn is here and with it a pleasant new release from Merry November. From the roots in the excellent, but sadly short-lived Magnetic Tapes, we got Merry November, which resides in a similar musical 'soundscape' but with some distinctive exceptions (mainly two leading vocals instead of one). Merry November is the married couple Andreas Knutsen and Charlotte Ronja E. Knudsen's project, but since their debut I'll keep you here (Racing Junior 2003) they have expanded the band with Tom D. Reiertsen.

Merry November always deliver solid pieces of work, but what differentiates them from the now so crowed melancholy Americana scene? For one - alternating between two distinctly different voices creates a varied and dynamic expression. Andreas, with his dark and laidback voice where influences from both Americana and crooner style are clear, and Charlotte with her angelic, fair, more European (read French) inspirations. Since their debut it seems that Charlotte has been given more space in the band's expressions. She's also writing most of the band's lyrics.

Since their debut the band has expanded their expression to include more pop sensibility, they sound 'merrier' than before, but luckily without leaving their background in melancholia. It also seems that the country inspirations is more distinctive as fans of both Calexico and Chris and Carla will notice. Tasteful use of especially violins (Magnus Dahlberg) - an instrument to bring out the album's delicate sound.

The album starts with the single "4-9-10" which is sort of a 'Wedding Present guitar-pop-piece' and it's a bit different from their former songs. The bittersweet waltz "Wild Rose Thicket", with its distinctive western style, is one of the best duets on the album. In the sensual cinematic "Rouge", the European influences are clear. Charlotte's whispering vocal in symbiosis with Andreas brings back memories of another musical couple; Serge Gainsborough and Jane Birkin with a soundscape not different from Tindersticks. She also gives a strong vocal performance in the nocturnal, gothic lullaby "Où-est mon abri" which is really stunning, but I don't think her voice works as well in the more straightforward pop-rock style. Other strong tunes on the album are "Song From the Prayer", one of the album's strongest ballads and "Release My Ghost" in Calexico/mariachi style.

If you are patient you'll get a bonus at the end of the album (the saying: those who waits for something good... may not always hold true), but as a total; this really is a fine album and they deserve to reach a wider audience.

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