Sunday, March 22, 2009

Maia Hirasawa’s “Gbg vs Sthlm” (Gothenburg versus Stockholm) builds on the foundations of “Though I’m Just Me” and it contains a song by that title just to underline that sense of continuity. “GvS” is a plush, grand sounding affair that both retains and builds upon the pop simplicity of her debut.

A very charismatic lady, I recall when HS played in Glasgow you could hear a pin drop during her opening set. This time out, the controls are set somewhere between Jonathan Richman and Regina Spektor but in reality she’s unlike either. Something about these songs make them feel like a spectacular Broadway musical score from the days when those things weren’t run by accountants.

Architecturally, it feels decidedly Scandanavian. There’s no clutter. A natural sense of space creates a minimal, spare feel. If you could breathe air this pure then I imagine, you’d never need to detox again.

An orchestral fragility like this can only come from a big heart and the necessary soul of a real artist. Not a theatre school wannabe that’s being groomed for limited pop stardom in these zip attention span times. Maia has a truly fresh design on pop music and “The Wrong Way” will warm the cockles of the most cynical heart. The quiet grace of this music commands attention. Something wistful like “I Will Sing For You” is almost Cole Porter in that it belongs to another, altogether more tranquil dimension. Maia won’t elbow her way into your life and she won’t crash your party but she’ll be there to soothe your earbones long after much of the alleged big guns have boarded up the shutters and moved on.

Already a big star in Sweden, one day Ms Hirasawa will make a sizeable dent everywhere else too. It might not be tomorrow or even next month but however long it takes, the world will be a better place for it. Meanwhile, I hope that she and Jesper and their crew will come out this way soon, it’s been way too long.

Listen to the album here, it’s out on Razzia this coming Wednesday.

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