“This song is about my mother,” began Þórir with his eyes on the floor, “Who unfortunately has never sat in Parliament.” The audience’s eyes, consequently, were all on him, clutching his guitar as he stood hovering delicately above the microphone. Halfway through his short set at 12 Tónar record shop, Þórir, or as he calls his one-man-band, My Summer as a Salvation Soldier, looked quite uncomfortable.
Beginning this song, like every other, with a slow and pensive picking at his guitar, the shy looking twenty-something looked as though he was mentally preparing himself. Leisurely, his strumming grew into a melody. His voice, steady yet sensitive, crooned over the close crowd.
Delivered with the sort of genuine nonpretension that one can’t help but praise, Þórir’s simple and delicate cogitations, heavily reminiscent of Bright Eyes, are impressive mostly in their candidness. Each short song manages, at its most sensitive of moments, to transcend the gritty clumsiness of the singer’s present, filled with more conviction than you thought him capable of. Slow, haunting, and painfully raw, like a dance with your crush at senior prom, Þórir’s songs are guiltily enjoyable.
“I’m going to play two more songs, then I have to go to work,” Þórir whispered. The adoration of the crowd climaxed with the apparently well-known chorus from one of the songs off of his newest album, Anarchists Are Hopeless Romantics. “After all that we’ve been through/ these are the memories that I will have of you/ when the years are dead and gone, not a single conversation just this song.”
His lyrics were impressively grounded, a testament to the importance of good song writing, clever without being excessively ironic. “I’m feeling sick, I’ve had too much to think,” and “What are we in this world, what are we but our words?” being especially memorable.
He began his last song a little less than thirty minutes into the set. It was nearly 6. A group of kids ran past the store screaming, allowing a biting contrast to the soft atmosphere inside. The audience stood cosily, holding their plastic cups full of free rose-wine courtesy of the record store. It was as if we had all taken part in a group meditation session and now, with the end in sight, were huddling together for one last song before being forced back out into the harsh, rain-wet streets of Reykjavík.
For now we watched, easily entranced by this the last, and undoubtedly the best, song of the evening. Þórir was surely about to disappear as quietly as he had arrived and we were quite enjoying watching him, as uncomfortable as that may have made him.
The song was ending yet the night was young, and it seemed that Þórir, surprisingly enough, was going to leave us with a nugget of hope.
“And I’ll never sing the same old tune, my friends did before me/ I’ll be as true to this, as anyone could be.” I believed him.