Chances are you’ll have heard Anna Ternheim’s music without knowing who she was. The Swedish singer-songwriter’s music have appeared on One Tree Hill, Dollhouse, Wallander, whenever something acoustic and melodic was required to accompany scenes of heartbreak, loss, or united losing the derby. Whether your interest can be sustained for an entire album depends on how susceptible you are to the Norah Jonesy sound, or what your own demands from her music may be. Ternheim has a fine voice, strong, pitch-perfect, with the kind of breathy caramel overtones that suit the music down to the ground. However there’s precious little emotion or variation in delivery, her Nordic cool perhaps getting in the way. Of course it could be that the songs themselves can’t generate any emotion in Ternheim as they don’t appear to tackle anything particularly dramatic. For the listener looking for something meaty to chew on there are lean pickings only, with one exception.
For her latest album, “The Night Visitor”, she’s surrounded herself with American country musicians in search of the kind of Nashville vibe Jack Daniels have built a marketing career around. The effect on her music is hard to quantify, but for one track, a cover of Josh Turner’s “The longer the waiting the sweeter the kiss” sung with Dave Ferguson , the music suddenly coalesces into something heart-stopping beautiful. Ferguson has produced “The Night Visitor” and has worked with country giants such as Johnny Cash, Charley Pride and Eddy Arnold. The miles on his clock can be heard all over his duet with Ternheim, and the contrast between his grizzled weary delivery and Ternheim’s pure and innocent chime lifts an already strong song about the pain of being apart from the one you love into something revelatory.
That the strongest song on the album is a cover, and a duet at that, says it all about an album where the expectations are lowered track by track until it’s eventually filed under “background” or “dinner party”. Catch the performance of “the longer the waiting..” on youtube and maybe investigate Josh Turner instead.
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