Karen & Helene,
(Go, 2004)

In listening to Karen and Helene's album, Solen, I am amazed at the talent that went into it.

While I don't understand the Danish lyrics, I am struck by how beautifully unique each woman's voice is. Karen Mose's voice is full and strong, while Helene Blum's has a purer sound. The differences in their voices make the CD very interesting listening because there is a lot of dimension within each song.

To add to this dimension, there is also a lot of wonderful instrumentation. Joining Karen and Helene is producer Harald Haugaard, of the infamous Danish duo, Haugaard & Hoirup, on fiddle and viola (Hoirup also adds guitar on two tracks). Leo Svensson and Kasper Tagel provide depth on cello and bass. David Tallroth joins them on dobro, guitar and mandola. Christopher Moller adds his amazing piano talents to the mix. On tenor and soprano saxophone is Hans Mydtskov and on electric guitar and e-bow is Sune Hansbaek. All of these musicians are extremely talented and they make the album really beautiful.

Because of all of the instruments, this album also has much variety. Each song sounds very different from the last. Some sound very heavy and have a lot of depth, while others sound very light and happy.

My favorite song on this album is "Skon Sired." Thanks to the English translation in the liner notes, I can say that it is about a beautiful young woman who is loved by many, but she is in love with one man and she pines for him. It, of course, is one of the light and happy-sounding songs and, unlike many other tracks on the album, the instrumentation is very simple, with only fiddle and guitar. When I put this CD into my stereo, I tend to hit the repeat button when it gets to this song because I like it so much.

I also like the opening track. The beginning song, "Se nu stiger solen," is very calming and it features each woman's voice with only piano. Then, it changes into a lively dance tune, "Heja bandet," which Karen and Helene lilt. Joining the duet is the fiddle and cello.

I don't know much about Danish music, but I can say that this is one of the most unique albums that I have heard in a long time. I would highly recommend it to people who enjoy traditional music and different kinds of folk traditions.

by Kaitlin Hahn
11 March 2006