While I Was Asleep (Jansen Records) is Norwegian Americana band Darling West’s latest release. In Norway, they call it “Norwegicana” and in the region there’s serious and growing support for both Americana music and this band; if you haven’t listened, now’s your chance with their new album fresh off the presses a couple days ago. More than 3 million plays on Spotify and their win of the Norwegian Grammy Award for their last album indicates there’s something desirable afoot with this band. They are popular both in Norway and here at home, where they’ve toured repeatedly.
From the opening harmonica melodies, to Mari Sandvaer Kraken’s rich melodious voice, to the banjo and pedal steel, this album is all Americana. The lilting harmonies on “After My Time” contribute to this song’s allure as a classic build-up song. Lyrics like “when I am gone, bury my bones deep in the ground” are a welcome focus on the somber realities of life and mortality, “I can see the hope in your eyes, so please don’t turn away.” “While I Was Asleep” is a pretty love song; in a world full of long songs, Darling West has managed to create a delightfully fresh one. Kraken’s vulnerable voice tell us she’s “wearing my heart on my sleeve, picturing it breaking as you leave” provides the perfectly bittersweet feel of love and the fear of losing it. “Traveler” is a gentle fingerpicking style guitar song gliding over pedal steel: regretting the “the fear of trying.”
Get your copy here, and then check out the tour schedule. They’ll be stateside in a few short weeks.