Siv Jakobsen Sings Of 'The Nordic Mellow' : All Songs Considered Siv Jakobsen often remains lyrically tense and musically placid — though it could be hard to tell from the song we're premiering today, which rolls and rumbles uncharacteristically.
NPR logo Siv Jakobsen Sings Of 'The Nordic Mellow'

Siv Jakobsen Sings Of 'The Nordic Mellow'

The Norwegian songwriter and singer Siv Jakobsen seems to fill her tunes with a storm of lyrical tension, sung over a sea of instrumental calm — her new album, The Nordic Mellow, is not always as intense as the song we're premiering today, "Shallow Digger," would lead you to believe. (The high-powered arrangements here, in fact, remind me of Led Zeppelin's thunderous "Immigrant Song.")

Siv Jakobsen Jørgen Nordby/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Jørgen Nordby/Courtesy of the artist

Siv Jakobsen

Jørgen Nordby/Courtesy of the artist

Jakobsen told me that "Shallow Digger" was the piece that surprised her the most. "It's very different — it's intense and loud and brooding, and just sort of came out. It surprised me lyrically, I didn't quite understand what it was about until I wrote down the words that had come out — but they made sense, even still. It's as if it was written by my subconscious, this slowly brooding tale that touches on being shallow, selfish and, ultimately, human. The song was a sort of epiphany for me, realizing that although I am, and we are all, products of this massive world, we aren't always the best at taking care of it. It came from feeling shallow and selfish and frustrated about that very fact."

The Nordic Mellow was written over a period of a year-and-a-half, following the release of her popular EP The Lingering in 2015 — songs from which drew over 10 million streams. Jakobsen says she's a slow writer, that each song on The Nordic Mellow contains "some sort of frustration" and that her approach to lyrics and music were bolder than ever.

"The Lingering has a ... feeling of sadness and hopelessness to it. The Nordic Mellow is much angrier, more frustrated, and has less of a filter — but is still looking at a lot of the same situations and themes as The Lingering did.

"I started writing the album after having moved back home from Brooklyn to Oslo, which inevitably gave me a new perspective on my experiences whilst living in the U.S. The album is largely about leaving places and people behind, both physically and mentally. I am no good in a face-to-face argument, so my songs are my way of expressing the words I have a hard time speaking 'in real life.' It is quite common human nature I think, to shy away from confrontation. Songwriting amends that for me, it allows for me to sing the words I cannot speak."

The album was produced by Matt Ingram, known for his work as drummer and sometimes-producer with Laura Marling. Ingram and Jakobsen worked closely together on the arrangements for these songs, playing most of the instruments with the exception of bass and a string quartet.

The Nordic Mellow will be released on August 25.