Stina Nordenstam

I went to the local rubbish tip last week and had a quick look through the stack of CD’s they have there that people were going to throw away as landfill. Amongst the Westlife, Boyzone and Robbie Williams CD’s, which are going where they belong, was ‘The World is Saved’ by Stina Nordenstam, which was a delightful surprise and a bargain at £0.50p

Ive been listening to Nordenstam since around 1998 when I heard a cover version of ‘Purple Rain’ by Prince. I was rather taken by the fragility of her voice and various tracks by her ended up on several mix CD’s that I used to listen to in the car (before MP3 playlists).

She was born in Stockholm and, as a child was greatly influenced by her father’s classical and jazz music collection. Early comparisons were made with artists like Rickie Lee Jones and Björk. Her early albums, ‘Memories of a Color’ and ‘And She Closed Her Eyes’ were jazz-influenced with elements of alternative rock. 1997’s ‘Dynamite’ began a more experimental path—most of the album was filled with distorted guitars and unusual beats. A 1998 cover album, ‘People Are Strange’, followed in the same vein. In 2001 Nordenstam went with a more pop-influenced sound on ‘This Is Stina Nordenstam’, and features guest vocals from Brett Anderson. Nordenstam’s 2004 album ‘The World Is Saved’ continued the path set on This Is…, but presents a more realised sound and acknowledges her earlier jazz influences.

‘The World Is Saved’ is her last album release, 15 years ago in 2004, so I’ve no idea what she is up to now. The last thing she seemes to have been invloved in musically was back in 2007 with David Sylvian’s band ‘Nine Horses’.

The voice that Nordenstam uses on her official releases is a voice she chooses to reveal as, though it may seem juvenile at first, and tentative, it is quite deliberate, she is more than capable of much more than she allows the listener to hear but she uses her voice to help tell the story of the words she is singing, with long pauses at times that can be quite unnerving.

This is Stina Nordenstam is the first of her albums I bought, but it was both the Purple Rain cover and that of The Doors – People are Strange, that first brought her to my attention. Nordenstam doesn’t do many interviews and often disguises herself with wigs and suchlike and this has had a twofold effect, on the one hand she has to a degree, protected her anonominity, and on the other, it has restricted her success. From what little I do know of her, I suspect she would be just fine with that

The choice of cover versions on People Are Strange is an intersting one, here are the tracks:

Tracklist

1Sailing – The Sutherland Brothers / Rod Stewart3:14
2I Dream Of Jeannie – Theme3:56
3Love Hurts – Everly Brothers  0:32
4Lonesome Road – Traditional2:04
5Bird On A Wire – Leonard Cohen3:41
6Purple Rain – Prince3:48
7Swallow Strings – Stina Nordenstam1:08
8Like A Swallow – Traditional2:44
9Reason To Believe – Tim Hardin4:10
10I Came So Far For Beauty – Leonard Cohen4:01
11Come To Me – Stina Nordenstam3:28
12People Are Strange –The Doors3:35

All of her albums are available on popular streaming sites so go and discover if anything you’ve heard here appeals to you in any way.

To finish, there is a video available of a young Nordenstam not being typically Nordenstam from 1989, before her first album was released, here it is, the girl can sing.