And She Closed Her Eyes
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The first words of And She Closed Her Eyes form a hushed announcement, with Stina Nordenstam enunciating the title of the opening track, ‘When Debbie’s Back from Texas’, in her timid, inimitable voice. It is often assumed that acoustic singer-songwriters tend towards vulnerability, but Nordenstam’s voice takes the notion to an extreme. From her mouth, each word sounds as if it could shatter.
To assume that Nordenstam’s timidity equals despondency is a mistake, though. On the same song, major-key beams of light break through the gloom with the phrase, ‘She’ll answer you, like lovers do.’ On ‘Viewed from the Spire’, the music slips into unexpected chord progressions, ambling sidesteps that subtly undermine the listener’s expectations. Nordenstam glides between roles, now wounded bird, now benevolent sprite.
At the heart of the record lies ‘Little Star’, its understated lyrics speaking quietly of tragedy: ‘There was a fire at the warehouse / They’re always waiting for a thing like this.’ The track reaches its climax only in the closing section, as a group of angelic choristers rise to the surface, to cushion Nordenstam with a cloud of harmonies. The melancholic Latin prayer they intone breathes new life into the song’s opening line: ‘Little star, so you had to go.’
On the album cover, Nordenstam’s expression is one of peacefulness. She touches her face, which glows against the pale windows behind her, as if envisioning a brighter world. Yet, her introspection implies insulation rather than isolation; like the music it frames, the image suggests safe shelter. As And She Closed Her Eyes grows in familiarity, Nordenstam’s voice nuzzles its way into your consciousness, sighing contentedly in its new home.
Words by John Wadsworth
More to discover: You can listen to 'When Debbie's Back from Texas' here, 'Viewed from the Spire' here, and 'Little Star' here. The album cover of And She Closed Her Eyes is linked here. Stina Nordenstam rarely speaks to the press, but a brief video interview for MTV from 1994 is available here.
Second Coming by The Stone Roses. The slow-burning opener binds us in suspense, ahead of the bluesy grooves and buoyant melodies that follow. (→)
– Hugh Maloney, Silent Frame Sub-Editor