Frida Hyvönen | “December”

Written by  //  November 24, 2008  //  Music, On the Record, The Conservatory  //  No comments

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My grandmother is a sweet, plump, Belgian grandmother, the kind of grandmother who makes you food and then tells dirty jokes, and then giggles hysterically. She always sang during my childhood, probably little Belgian folk songs and French cabaret-type songs. My mother and her still like to duet, singing “Two White Doves,” and while I always cringe at family reunions sitting through it, my adulthood has provided me with enough context to appreciate it. It’s funny how much music nowadays reminds me of my Meme (that’s what we call my grandma – pronounced May-May). Sometimes I find music that sounds steeped in some vaguely European folk tradition – and sometimes it just takes a female vocalist with an adorable accent to bring on a wave of nostalgia.

First of all, Regine Chassagne reminds me of my Meme – mostly because of her childlike vocal qualities. The songs of Bowerbirds definitely remind me of my Meme; it might be the accordion in the background, but I think it’s the style of the songs, the type you want to sing along to; and finally Swedish singer-songwriter Frida Hyvönen really reminds me of my Belgian grandmother – maybe if my Belgian grandmother had babies with Jens Lekman. After thinking that (shudder) really odd thought, I did find out she played with Jens Lekman the other night in Brooklyn, and they’re label mates.

Her voice and songs sound like old Grandma, but the subject matter and lyrics are oh-so-Jens, with her straightforward and matter-of-fact account of getting an abortion. Meme wouldn’t sing about that. Still, this is the most adorable song to ever be sung about abortion; despite the melancholy, heavy feel, the little dancing melody almost makes me want to tap dance to it.

Her new album, Silence is Wild, is currently out on Secretly Canadian.

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