Understanding and Explaining Nordic Folk

Two young artists from Norway and Sweden have launched their newest singles and we just felt the necessity of understand and explain the unique kind of Nordic Folk.

2 Marlene Oak & Simen Mitlid -AW

Let’s start by stating a fact: it’s winter. And in winter there are some factors that put beauty in each and every day when most of the people see sadness and ugliness. One of those factors is music, usually folk music and whispering vocals or high falsettos. And then we have all the natural factors that are so beautiful to see when we are inside our house getting warmed. Then there’s a region in Europe that has it all and it’s close to perfection.

For some reason, countries like Iceland, Norway and Sweden have such great folk and have created a kind of music that convey all the cold, the hills, the melancholic and Orphic environment that those countries have naturally. Those countries have already offered to the World bands and artists like Kings of Convenience, Of Monsters and Men, Junip, First Aid Kit, Sigur Rós, Ólafur Arnalds… and the list seems to have no end. To prove it, we present you here today two promising singer-songwriters who’ve just released their brand-new singles today.

Simen Mitlid

The singer-songwriter Simen Mitlid comes from the mystic woods of Os, Norway, and Northern musicians, as we’ve been told, understand all about winter and white snow so perfectly. It is not racism, it’s envy. It’s passionate to hear Nordic Folk during winter because all the emotions and feelings are there. Simen is a excelent example of that. In Saturdays, he sings like he mourns, whispering and slowing down every moment and note he sings. His voice echoes all over the place like if he was alone in a cold room, and also all the sound effects give the idea of a close and intimist performance of the singer-songwriter.

Mitlid presents a style easily related to All The Luck In The World or Patrick Watson right from the very start. The melody played and the fingerpicking seems to drive the whole song but we immediately agree to say that the singer-songwriter puts his effort on his lyrics, which turns him into some kind of a storyteller.

That’s actually something highly connected to folk music, and Nordic folk has been exploring it more and more. It’s so exciting that we tend to believe that life must be wonderful there because their storytelling is so warm and lovable, and Simen Mitlid, apparently, is becoming one of those musicians who take us anywhere with their music.

Marlene Oak

And from a small island across Stockholm, Sweeden, comes Marlene Oak. And here is where things get even more serious. She owns one of the most magnificent voices we’ve heard in a long time, so unique and so pure it’s not even easy to compare it with others. Sometimes she sounds like mythic Patsy Cline or Dolly Parton, reaching high keys in old country-style, and other times she’s raw and sharp like Brandi Carlile or Sharon van Etten, exploring her rasp and low keys giving us some fresh notches of rock. But none of this matters, when the young singer and songwriter expresses her own and natural style.

In Come Home, Marlene plays her guitar in an almost amateur way like she’s playing it for the first time, transmitting the sense of pure emotion, all put down in verses and sweet melodies coming out of her mouth like prayers and pleas. “And I keep on waiting, I am waiting for you to come” is the verse she keeps repeating and it’s when her voice reaches the pitch in such a strip and vulnerable way. The rest of the instruments just help in glorifying the melody and in a final moment, the brass arrangement is sugarcoated.

At first sight (or hear), Simen Mitlid and Marlene Oak have nothing in common, but we do believe that both of them are in the right path to help establish an incredible movement that has been growing in Nordic countries, regarding to melodies, lyrics and mostly a unique and breathtaking way to perform their music vocally and instrumentally speaking. Noone can express and mix Nature elements with nostalgia, melancholy and other feelings and emotions as the Nordic musicians do.

Simen Mitlid
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Marlene Oak
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