Nina Akerblom Nielsen Sings Emily Dickinson – Nobody Knows This Little Rose
This collection of 8 tracks recorded in Sweden has American poet Emily Dickinson’s poetry set to the music of Nina Akerblom Nielsen. Produced by Axel Dahlin & Nina, the showcase Sings Emily Dickinson – Nobody Knows This Little Rose (Dropped September 26-Kakafon Records). It features 18 participants & is quite an effective concept.
Nina has a beautiful voice & she sings Emily Dickinson’s poetry (“Better Than Music”) in what’s basically an old-English folk style. Maybe if Emily were alive & hooked up with a band like this, she’d give Joni Mitchell & the late Leonard Cohen a run for their money. Nina’s music is assembled with a melodic atmosphere that is impeccable & she maintains it through all 8 compositions.
Her deep vocal on “Hope Is the Thing With Feathers,” is surprisingly good. She penetrates with gorgeous tone & control & I can’t believe I’m listening to a beautiful song co-written by a talented young poet dead more than 100 years. But that’s the gift Nina Akerblom Nielsen brings with this effort. She virtually brought Emily back to life in a new genre. Music. I wish Emily could hear it.
With “This World Is Not Conclusion,” Nina veers into a near-Germanic carnival melody mindful of Brecht-Weill & though it’s not a dark melody it has that old-world flavor of gypsies, tramps & thieves. Nina navigates the larger lyrics quite well in Emily’s poems. Nothing sounds awkward. The entire showcase is built in a conceptual manner – the added vocal on “We Grow Accustom To The Dark,” by Sofie Livebrant is quite affecting. It has emotion & power. Their combined vocals add such honeyed sadness. But how can sadness lead to threads of happiness in the same melody?
There is lovely music & singing being done in other parts of the world that weave the roots music tradition, be it old English, traditional Swedish, or old mountain Americana – maybe we’re really a lot closer to each other than we realize. This CD is nothing but beautiful compositions & compelling words.
It took a genius musician like Ms. Nielsen to take an American poetess’ aged work & show us how truly remarkable it is in 2023. I hope Nina continues…every tune on this CD is inspiring. It squeezes anxiety out of your head.
It’s mindful of the breezy vocals of Judy Collins. The song “Will There Really Be a Morning,” drifts into your ears like a forgotten memory that makes you smile again. When the children’s choir comes it’s a transition that formulates angelic goosebumps. What an arrangement. Written like a lullaby with the addition of a harmonica, acoustic guitar & slide guitar sound “Nobody Knows This Little Rose” concludes this disciplined, emotionally shaped showcase. This is one of the best CDs I’ve heard this year. I’m sitting here with a tissue in my hand & that’s really not me.
Highlights – “Better Than Music,” “Hope Is the Thing With Feathers,” “This World Is Not Conclusion,” “We Grow Accustom To The Dark,” “Because I Could Not Stop For Death,” the superb “If You Were Coming In the Fall,” “Will There Really Be a Morning” & “Nobody Knows This Little Rose.”
Musicians – Nina (vocals/piano/reed organ/carillon), Sofie Livebrant (vocals on “We Grow Accustom To The Dark”), Greger Siljeba (violin), Isabel Blomme (cello), Martina Stenman (flute), Erik Ottosson (double bass), Axel Dahlin (harmonica/reed organ/alto horn), Fredrik Lannemry (baritone), Fredrik Hempel (cornett), Magnus Lundmark & Erik Nilsson (percussion) with Children’s Choir: Alice Axklo, Ella Krigsman, Hedda Westman, Margot Gard, Mirjam Wallander & Sonja Freidlitz.
Cover photo of Nina by Anna Hallmans. The 29-minute CD @ https://ninaakerblom.com/