A document of many questions and a few precious answers – gauzy and giddy.
“I’m in shadow,” intones Emma Nordenstam adding elsewhere, “Silence is all around me.” It’s a solipsist, if egoless, point, and the Swedish chanteuse stays in that penumbra for the duration of this album – her third and the first sung English – that offers a little physical movement. There’s a spiritual commotion, though, with a progressively growing polyphonic scope of “Why Are They Holding Me Back?”, a hymnal admission to not meaning to wake the dead. Contrasting the quiet aspiration behind the lines like “Will I find a road?” and “I need a place where I can go,” it looks like she’s searching where to belong to, after a 7-year gap down the recording lane. Yet the “I’ve gone too far” statement suggests waiting for a wonder rather than a fear of falling.
Emma soulfully channels Sandy Denny in “As We Fall” and “Long Since Gone,” as opposed to Nick Drake-like aloofness on most of the tracks here, to inhabit the glass-walled space, best expressed in “The Room,” its slight psychedelic undercurrent unfurling for a full orchestral view in the finale “The Opening Within” that MY BROTHER THE WIND give another dimension. For the most part, Nordenstam’s alone here with her piano and acoustic guitar, and, despite its calm, this is a disturbing spot where “everything matters.” But it’s possessed of a strange gravitation, and even the static “Strangers” is somehow alluring in its crystal flow that swirls electrically in the folk-minded “Cowboy.” Repeated spinning of the album reveals more of its core and firmly attaches it to the listener’s heart. A glorious achievement.