Every once in a while, an album comes along that tugs at all the right strings. Over the last couple of years, honest and moving lyrics have become a soft spot of mine, with albums from the likes of Delta Sleep and Fiona Apple being on constant repeat. Therefore, the very moment I heard the first single off Rikke Normann‘s new album, the art of letting go, I knew I had stumbled across another soulful indie gem.
Normann is a Norwegian artist, and the art of letting go is her fifth album. She is clearly well-reputed in her homeland, having performed alongside John Legend at the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize Concert, and toured with many other major artists. Sadly, I’m not familiar with her previous works, but going just by this album, I would describe her music as soulful indie-pop. A talented artist, who not only possesses a wide vocal range but also has that unique ‘relatable’ sound, making it instantly connect with the listener.
Through the art of letting go, Normann takes one on an emotional journey of change or, as the title suggests, letting go of things. From moving on from relationships on “i dunno love” to letting go of unfulfilled dreams left behind on “redefine yourself” or even trying to forget our insecurities and doubts on “don’t you worry”, the album covers a vast array of what we leave behind, sometimes forced and sometimes by choice.
the art of letting go is a quick 35-minute album, as most of the eleven songs are around the radio-friendly three-minute mark, but Normann covers a large sonic landscape in this short duration. The opener, “i will try”, is a mellow and upbeat song that kicks off in a minimalistic fashion before adding multiple musical layers. The same upbeat rhythm continues as one goes into “i dunno love”, where I quickly found myself singing along to the chorus and swaying to the music. A few minutes later, the beat effortlessly drops one into the electro beat-bop of “everybody makes mistakes”; fast forward another few songs and I’m grooving to the funky “drama queen.” All throughout, I find myself so engrossed in the music that the transitions become almost invisible.
Given the variation Normann brings to her music, any equivalent comparisons become redundant. Over the course of the album, I could see her seeking inspiration from a wide variety of artists. The tinge of sadness on “unfollow” reminds me of the very best of Adele, as her voice soars and expresses complex emotions with beauty and poise. Whereas the direct, one-to-one vibe on “drama queen” or “don’t you worry” takes me back to Phoebe Katis and her album It’s Okay To Cry. All of this to say, Normann manages to make her voice gel with multiple styles with equal aplomb, with not a single note across the art of letting go feeling out of place.
Hence, despite being short and sweet, the art of letting go is an expansive and varied album, tied together through the soulful voice of Rikke Normann. I urge you to ‘let go’ of any biases you may hold towards indie-pop artists and add the art of letting go to your regular playlist. In no time, the coming spring will feel much warmer, as one basks in the sunshine of Normann’s emotional masterpiece.