Published September 15, 2014
With several albums under her belt, two No. 1 singles on the Icelandic music charts, and world touring with Gusgus as a teen, Hafdís Huld has a lot of previous musical experience to draw upon. She’s nearing her mid-thirties now, but has that certain Icelandic agelessness about her. Hafdís’s solo album `Home’ is a simple collection of original folk songs and lullaby-like tunes arranged and orchestrated by the singer’s partner, Alisdair Wright. The warmer, more densely arranged tracks on the album are the most effective and, with a reverberant piano, guitars and percussion, all very radio-friendly. A ukelele even makes an appearance. Standout tracks on `Home’ include “Wolves” and “Sunrise,” which vary between a Jewel Kilcher-like country lilt and a Norah Jones jazz. Hafdís’s mellow alto voice recalls the aforementioned Jewel but without any yodeling quirks.
The album is fine, but that’s about where it ends. Though the lullabies might get you swaying back and forth, there are very few faster-tempo tracks for variety. The songs have memorable choruses, but there isn’t anything challenging or unusual in instrumentation, orchestration, or melodic writing. Hafdís could bring more emotional content to the album with expanded vocal writing, but her voice instead stays within a very limited range and tone. Similarly, percussion often adds variety to `Home’s’ songs, but the textures enter all too infrequently. The album ends with “I Miss the Rain,” a cute track with ukelele, but closing with a bizarre coda that repeats, “Wash my sins away.” One can’t really believe Hafdís has really sinned all that much.
‘Home’ is an album you can give to your grandma, knowing that you’ve bought an Icelandic CD as a safe yet thoughtful souvenir. Or, put it on at night when you’re having trouble sleeping; this album will give you sweet dreams.