Swedish singer/songwriter Kerstin Stilling releases challenging, thought-provoking new album
May 9, 2011 (Stockholm, Sweden) Written by Robert Sutton. Every great album has that specific moment, that point of transition that elevates it from being merely good.
For singer/songwriter Kerstin Stilling's latest album Much More Less, it arrives midway through on the song "Mother." With its ominous, dramatic piano and haunting vocal work, it instantly grabs even the shortest of attention spans and refuses to relinquish its hold. "Although you left us long ago/Things you've taught me make me survive," Stilling sings, her voice heavy with loss and sorrow.
Although "Mother" ends on an optimistic note - "I long to see the sun with you/Oh, I miss us laughing so" - Stilling offers no respite from the melancholic emotions with her piano.
"Mother" should plant the idea that Stilling is no run-of-the-mill jazz vocalist; she's far from it, in fact. At times, especially on "Mother," Stilling actually recalls the confessional narratives of Tori Amos more than her jazz contemporaries like Norah Jones. There are edges and quirks in both Stilling's voice and compositional style that elevate her from her peers in the jazz community. Perhaps it's her European background, bringing forth openness to new ideas that isn't commonly found or frowned upon in American jazz.
On the opening track, "Absolutely Normal," Stilling's moody piano and raspy voice give life to her stream-of-consciousness lyrics. The swirling accordion is a nice touch as well. "Away" and "Things" unreel with a slower groove; however, Stilling's charmingly coy vocals inject them with personality.
Stilling's words may seem vague at first but repeated spins gradually convey their meaning - well, at least a logical interpretation. For example, "Things" seems to be about finding stability in a loved one throughout the chaos of everyday living.
While many jazz vocalists are content with merely sounding pretty or soulful, Stilling also wants to challenge you and make you think. It's that extra mile that she runs which makes Much More Less a worthwhile trip.
More Information: http://www.kerstinstilling.com