The Northern Belle | We Wither, We Bloom | (Die With Your Boots On Records)
Four out of five stars
Videos by American Songwriter
First off, let’s dispense with the stereotypes. Whenever the nation of Norway comes up in conversation, the initial references that come to mind are fjords, vikings and colder conditions. Really cold conditions. So it’s comforting to know that the music that’s made there is anything but icy.
Witness the Northern Belles, a seven piece ensemble with a sound that’s cheery, tasteful, upbeat and exuberant, one that brings to mind a cross between the Fleetwood Mac circa their ‘70s successful period and the girl group I’m With Her in a very merry mood of their own. With We Wither, We Bloom, the band’s third album — and first to gain international release — the band makes a concerted effort to expand their recognition factor well beyond their native terrain and into a place where they can vie for membership in today’s pop pantheon.
One of the keys to their eventual success lies in singer Stine Andreassen, a vocalist of considerable merit who allows these songs to soar into the stratosphere, and ensures an instant impression. That’s not to negate the efforts of her compatriots as well; each musician brings a full measure of talent to the collective whole, resulting in arrangements that are capably and creativity constructed, and brimming with bubbly, buoyant designs. Of the 12 tracks shared herein, there’s not a single one that fails to deliver of that verve and vitality. That said, it’s the more expressive offerings — “Gemini,” “Remember It,” “Late Bloomer,” “Evelyn,” and “Two Minds” in particular — that provide the listener with the more expressive sentiments overall. Not he other hand, there’s also something to be said for their ability to craft a caressing ballad, as the songs “How Deep” and “Born To Be a Mother” demonstrate so demonstratively.
At the very least, The Northern Belle reaffirm the fact that a geographical divide needn’t be a hinderance to success. So too there’s no reason for any Scandinavian band to fail when it comes to finding that as well. Just ask ABBA. Given a little luck and an adept promotional push, The Northern Belle’s ability to secure worldwide recognition seems well within the range of possibility.
At a time when so many people are suffering from feelings of disenfranchisement and disconnect, We Wither, We Bloom shares a promise of rebirth and revival its title so emphatically implies.