Album review: "Let the Dog Drive Home"
By Mark Jenkins
Friday, Feb. 24, 2012
Singer-songwriter Teitur is a plain-spoken guy. The songs on his fifth studio album, “Let the Dog Drive Home,” express love and longing simply, often accompanied merely by piano, guitar and an understated rhythm section. The opener, for example, reduces the world-changing effects of new romance to a two-word title: “Feel Good.”
Yet Teitur, whose first name is pronounced “tie-tor” and whose unused surname is Lassen, is not allergic to gimmicks. There are yipping backup vocals on “Betty Hedges,” one of the liveliest tunes, and “Stormy Weather” features buzzy throat-singing. But these elements, like the string arrangements on some songs, are layered below Teitur’s boyish tenor, adding a gently eccentric ambience without fogging the music’s clarity.
Teitur’s original home is the Denmark-affiliated Faroe Islands, and he did release one album of songs in his native Faroese. But he has been recording in the United States since his 2003 debut, “Poetry & Airplanes,” and this album features numerous references to Los Angeles and New York. The urban geography is less telling than the emotional one, however. It’s entirely apt that the album ends with a more tentative take on “Feel Good’s” sentiment: Amid woozy morning-after anxieties, Teitur coos that “all I remember from last night is you.”
Album review: "Spark"
By - Moira E. McLaughlin
Friday, Feb. 24, 2012
After hearing Marit Larsen's new album, "Spark," listeners may be surprised to learn that the Norwegian singer is 28 years old. Her songs are so edge-less and her lyrics so naive, it's hard to imagine she has much real-life experience.
Larsen's vocals add to this feeling of immaturity as she reins in her strong and crystal-toned pipes so intently that she comes across as more coy than commanding. On "Keeper of the Keys," her voice wavers like a child shyly asking for a piggyback ride. And on "I Can't Love You Anymore," and "Last Night," Larsen's melody line meanders, and the songs lack drive. They are pleasant but without fire.
The single off the album, "Like Coming Home," is the most rollicking and memorable. It's reminiscent of a Taylor Swift pop gem, even if it sounds like it would fit in the next Disney fairy-tale, with its padded production and cliched lyrics.
The album may disappoint fans of Larsen's earlier work. (She is well known in Norway.) Songs such as "If a Song Could Get Me You" from her 2008 album, "The Chase," and "Don't Save Me," from her 2006 album, "Under the Surface," foreshadowed possible crowning of a new pop princess. Those tunes were going somewhere, driven by a pop urgency and simple verse-chorus-bridge formulas.
Larsen shouldn't be discounted just yet. She's a talented musician, adept at guitar and piano, and her vocals could rival many pop divas of the day. She just needs a little more time to develop her skills as a songwriter and her edge as a musician.