Review : Theresa Andersson - Street Parade
PopmattersIn the moment, parades are simple things. Largely unconcerned with subtlety, they make their case with brute force: You will celebrate, and you will like it! But in the aftermath, there’s time to reflect. According to singer-songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Theresa Andersson, Street Parade was inspired by a particularly potent, possibility-laden stillness she felt after a 2010 Mardi Gras celebration. Fittingly, the album suggests a busy, free-associating mind littered with remnants of recent echoic memory, decontextualized and sculpted into unfamiliar shapes. Brass and woodwinds honk tentatively before erupting into full blasts, and snare rudiments skitter and roll off the heads and rims, but this isn’t parade-ready music in any traditional sense (even if Andersson has performed some of it in that context, as in the video for the first single “Hold On To Me”).
Since moving from Gotland, Sweden to New Orleans in 1990, Andersson has tried her hand at vocal jazz and Americana-inflected pop, but 2008 represented both a creative and commercial breakthrough of sorts. She retooled her sound to fit a newly adopted live model of loop-based solo performance, and several YouTube demonstrations of this technique went viral. Following up on this success, she released Hummingbird, Go!, a lively, largely upbeat collection with nods to everything from Bacharach to Motown. Street Parade shares much in common with Hummingbird, Go!, including producer Tobias Fröberg at the helm, poet Jessica Faust pitching in on lyrics, and arrangements that favor Andersson’s stage technique. These commonalities only make the two releases’ substantial differences more striking by contrast. If Andersson and Fröberg designed Hummingbird, Go! with the intention of fashioning warm, familiar pop using the tools that Andersson deploys live, then Street Parade is their attempt at letting this new template, as well as the components borrowed from the ambient sounds of Mardi Gras, dictate the musical possibilities. It’s darker, more emotionally complicated, and far less padded for comfort....full text
BestnewbandsRight before the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival kicked off, the city’s own Theresa Andersson has just released her already largely acclaimed album, Street Parade. On this LP, Andersson finds a way to combine her Nordic heritage with the rich cultural background of the city she now calls home. Much of the instrumentation on this record is traditional NOLA fare, with strong horn lines and second line drum cadences, but arranged in fresh way that calls back to pop melodies of a far northern place. A big draw for Andersson in her live shows is that she plays most of the instruments and loops herself, much in the same vein of how tUnE-yArDs constructs their live set. Andersson’s songs, however, are their own beast, and this album highlights how she’s able to intertwine all her own parts together to create her own original narratives.
On the appropriately chosen into song “Street Parade,” starts off with piercing horns that turn to mourning wails, while her voice sounds as if it’s echoing from a large, empty building in the French Quarter. Her words drift out into the dusky New Orleans streets, proclaiming “I’m not alone.” Perhaps she’s speaking to the people who always seem to populate those streets, and even commenting on the city’s history when she sings “tomorrow it all burns to ash,” as if to say that there’s no use fretting over tonight, so it may as well be embraced. This notion is augmented by how strong her voice becomes for a moment in the song, as if to serve as a reminder of how they’ve already survived.
The album proceeds from there in successfully piecing unusual combinations of elements and arrangements along with insightfully stimulating lyrics. On “Listen To My Heels,” a bass clarinet is a brilliant counterpoint to her percussive vocals, as if to symbolize the difference and relation between heels and toes. “January” harkens back to 60s doowop with Andersson’s own meticulously layered harmonies, and album closer “Plucks” is a more minimalist outro carried primarily by violin plucks with perfectly pitched staccato trumpet....full text
SeattlepiNine out of ten Internet stars whose claim to fame is making it big on You Tube, or some other social media site, don't usually hang around long enough for most people to remember them from one week to the next. Usually its because the person has done something freakishly memorable rather than display any real talent during their fleeting moment in the limelight. In Andy Warhol's day it might have been possible for someone to have fifteen minutes of fame; now people are willing to settle for notoriety as a substitute for fame. In this everything is for public consumption age it doesn't matter what we do, it's whether we get noticed or not.
So the fact that someone gets a million, 2 million, or a hundred million hits on a video they put up on YouTube is no indicator of a person's talent. To be honest when I hear about things like that my instinctive reaction is to stay as far away as possible. I guess it's a good thing I started hearing about Theresa Andersson well after she was a sensation with her self produced videos recorded in her kitchen. While I've since seen them after the fact, and for what they were they are impressive, but the first music I heard from her was stuff she had recorded professionally through a streaming version of her live concert at Le Petit Theatre in New Orleans (now on DVD as Theresa Andersson: Live At Le Petit). Aside from a few special guests, including Allen Toussaint, it was a one woman show, and she rocked the house.
This was no flash in the pan sensation, this was someone with talent, creativity, skill and imagination. She had great presence on stage, a great singing voice, and an obvious talent for musical instruments. While it was slightly weird seeing a blue eyed blond Swedish woman standing up on stage belting out African American gospel tunes and originals which had more to do with New Orleans than Stockholm, her obvious love and enthusiasm for the material helped to bridge that gap. Yet where could she go from there? There's only so many times she could do the same thing over again without it becoming tired. So I was curious as to what she would have to offer on her newest disc from Basin Street Records, Street Parade, being released April 24 2012....full text
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