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Silence Is Wild

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Album Review

Frida Hyvönen's debut record, Until Death Comes, unveiled a singer with a sweet and powerful voice, as well as a songwriter with a gift for catchy melodies and compelling, off-kilter lyrics. Her second album, Silence Is Wild, changes up a few things but retains everything that made Hyvönen special. The main change is that, while her debut was rather sparse and featured Hyvönen's piano as the main instrument, here she and co-producer Jari Haapalainen chose to surround her voice and piano with a wide range of instruments (horns, strings, drums, synthesizers) and lush arrangements. This decision works wonderfully, as it gives the album a sense of diversity and dynamic tension that was missing on Until Death Comes. That record sounded very good, but by the end came across as a little one-dimensional; this record is full and rich with plenty of variation in tempos and instrumentation. One fear might have been that the increased attention to the sound of the record might have diminished the impact of the lyrics, but instead of burying them, the arrangements bring the words to life. A track like "Pony" might have been a bit too dirge-like with just piano, but the swooping synths and steady beat of the drums keep the song chugging ahead, "Oh Shanghai" could have been a drag without the vocal chorus and swelling organ. Elsewhere, the arrangements give the record a welcome injection of energy — check "London!" with its swinging tambourines, or the headlong rush of "Scandinavian Blonde," to hear Hyvönen actually almost rocking out. Only a handful of songs are stripped down to just voice and piano (like the harrowing and unsparing "December"), and while they don't sound bad, these tracks serve to reinforce what a good idea it was to open up Hyvönen's sound. Her voice on its own can be overwhelming (check the opening of "Highway 2 U," where she lets loose and comes dangerously close to sounding like a joke contestant on American Idol) and tough to warm up to. Adding strings, organs, and other voices wraps the vocal punch in velvet and helps the quirks go down easier. That she writes songs as affecting as "Dirty Dancing" and "Why Do You Love Me So Much" also helps. Alvin & the Chipmunks could sing them and bring a tear to your eye. Silence Is Wild is a solid step forward for Frida Hyvönen and a record to check out if you like singer/songwriters with a unique approach to be singing and songwriting.


Born: 1977 in Sweden

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '00s

Born in Sweden, singer/songwriter and pianist Frida Hyvönen released her debut, Until Death Comes, in Scandinavia in 2005 on the Concretes' label, Licking Fingers. Hyvönen was signed to American label Secretly Canadian -- which reissued her album in 2006 -- and she supported the record by touring with fellow Swedes José González and Jens Lekman. For her next record, which featured a fuller, more orchestrated sound, Hyvönen...
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Silence Is Wild, Frida Hyvönen
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