Words by Bartek Wilk The review was originally printed in Reykjavík On Stage (Issue 2)
When I think of the most fragile Icelandic artist, Sóley Stefánsdóttir is the first name that comes to my mind. I’ve been a fan of her talent since Seabear, always impatiently waiting for any new song she’s recorded. It’s been two years sinceher latest album Ask The Deep, following which EP Don’t Ever Listen came out. Incredibly good, stunningly dark, and deeply personal are words to describe the first album mentioned above. It was the quintessence of her image that I’ve painted in my mind through the years. The image of an unbelievably sensitive and empathetic person, who cares the most about the world, reaching its deepest evil. She incorporates all her personal experiences while writing her lyrics and music. I was not only truly surprised when I heard that Endless Summer was going to be a more optimistic album, but also genuinely delighted at the same time. If Sóley can see the ray of light, then maybe there’s hope for everyone.
Endless Summer didn’t affect my perception of Sóley as an artist, though the album is in fact more sun-drenched in its lyrics. It’s so valuably to experience Sóley’s happiness and to share the mood of warm and peaceful summer while listening to the album’s title track. But remember – it’s Sóley, so after all there’s always a shadow that comes out… just like in ‘Grow’:
Sooner it’s over, I go home
Adventures truly come and go
Heart by heart, turning cold
Before they grow and hit too low
We grow, and then we die.
So is her music. After the brighter parts, it evolves into a restless and dark tinted form, as only Sóley can be. Actually, it’s brilliant. The first thing I noticed is the piano. Even though Endless Summer is arranged for a small orchestra, the piano is the most crucial instrument on the album and even if it sounds much brighter, it reminds one of Krómantík in some ways. Listen to ‘Before Falling’ to understand what I mean. Endless Summer combines all that’s best in Sóley’s work. You’ll find two different sides of her music merged into one masterpiece. Bleak piano sound turning into a beautiful light-hearted composition, just like she did in ‘Úa’, the opening song named after her daughter. And you know what? This is the song that connects the generations, my kids love it as much as I do!
I think Endless Summer is the most comprehensive of Sóley’s works. It contains everything people love about her: the subtle voice, elaborated compositions full of different sounds and textures, incredibly wonderful and thoughtful lyrics, and this unrepeatable atmosphere. It sounds great as a whole, but at the same time every single song is so beautiful that I could start listening to the album from any point. So far, this is the most played album at my home this summer, not only by me, but by my whole family. It became even more intimate and close to my heart after watching Sóley live during the Endless Summer tour. If you haven’t seen her live yet, you just have to do it because it’s an incredibly great pleasure. She’s unpretentiously spreading her magic all over, filling the space with her smile and her charming voice.
Sóley has written Endless Summer together with her long-time friend and collaborator Albert Finnbogason. They’ve recorded most of the instruments, but there were also guest musicians who appeared on the record. She started working on it in the beginning of January 2016 and it took her over a year to finish it. The album was recorded at Harpa in Reykjavik, in two different garages, Hljóðriti, Tónkvísl and Figure 8 Recording. It was mixed at Figure 8 Recording in New York and mastered in Calyx Mastering, Berlin. Finally, it was released on the 5th of May by Morr Music.
And once more, watching Sóley live feels amazing. It is an out-of-the-world experience!
Sóley – Endless Summer
- Sing Wood To Silence
- Never Cry Moon
- Before Falling
- Endless Summer