Published March 16, 2017
Bubba (Guðbjörg Tómasdóttir) is the Icelandic half of Swedish/Icelandic female duo My bubba, whose third album, “Big Bad Good”, produced by Shahzad Ismaily, was released last year. They have been gaining attraction in the US where they have appeared on major folk festivals and toured with Damien Rice.
The albums that tend to stay with me the longest are often acoustic and sparse in their instrumentation. Where the message is so poignant, little is needed to deliver it, apart from the courage and artistry of the musicians.
1. Björk Guðmundsdóttir & Tríó Guðmundar Ingólfssonar – Glíng-Gló
On ‘Glíng Gló’ you can hear Björk interpret old Icelandic songs (and some jazz standards in English) in a very personal, jazzy outfit. It’s very Björk, yet so far from her usual gig. Recorded in the early 90s, this favorite has been with me for a long time.
2. Emilíana Torrini – Fisherman’s Woman
Emilíana’s magic powers really come forth on this beautiful album. The arrangements are kept simple and the depth of the guitar sound brings me to the bottom of the ocean at times.
3. Ólöf Arnalds – Við og við
On this album Ólöf manages to sound so contemporary, yet soulful and several hundred years old. It has a strong, feminine power to it; like having a older sister sing you lullabies laced with ancient wisdom.
4. Sigurður Guðmundsson og Memfismafían – Oft spurði ég mömmu
A colorful collection of old Icelandic popular tunes, recorded with a group of musicians gathered around one ribbon microphone. It’s hard to explain in words how warm it sounds, so give it a listen.
5. Múgíson – Haglél
With slightly dark poetry and beautifully carved melodies, Mugison touched me and more or less the entire Icelandic nation with this album back in 2011. The direct translation of the title is “Hail Shower.” It’s very Icelandic and romantic.
6. Valdimar – Undraland
This is a really sweet and sincere album. I like listening to it at airports, on my way home.
7. Gyða Valtýsdóttir, Shahzad Ismaily – Epicycle
This one is a new favorite, a very fresh take on classical compositions featuring cello, electric guitar and flavorful percussion. Listen twice to “Opus 100,” it’s a hit.
8. amiina – Fantômas
Originally composed as a live score to a silent movie from 1913, but released this year, ‘Fantômas’ takes you on a journey full of melancholy and joy. If you liked the ‘Amélie’ soundtrack, you’ll like this one.