This summer's final Uncharted Territory review is taking us to one of the few European countries that could rival the UK when it comes to the title of 'Lowest Average Summer Temperature' – Iceland. Here we find enchanting chanteuse Hafdís Huld and her fourth solo studio album Dare To Dream Small, released on the 28th July. Once more, Iceland has come up trumps. Much like Björk, Sigur Rós and Of Monsters And Men before her, Hafdís Huld seems destined to be the latest inhabitant of an island boasting a population equivalent to that of Leicester to blow me away with their music.
The album opens with the intoxicating Summer Inside, an ode to the spirit of a season that must be kept alive as the dark nights close in. Take Me Dancing is a tender love song that avoids all cliches and focuses on the fluid nature of relationships and how true strength can weather the storms of life and maintain the youthful idealism with which we began. It is refreshingly honest and carries a beautiful fragility. This is also evident in the delicate Last Rays Of The Sun, a track about the worlds of their own that lovers create beneath the scrutinous, speculative glare of outsiders.
If the first half of the album is an upbeat homage to all things amorous, the second portion does take a slight detour into heartbreak country though it loses none of its aesthetic charm along the way. Leaving Me Behind acts almost as a bridge. Evoking fragments of earlier imagery, Huld describes a whirlwind romance on the verge of divergence over a faint acoustic backdrop. Fineshade Forest takes a heartbreak pilgrimage through lonely woods. It is a track about the roads not taken and what might have been that ends with the faintest streams of hopeful sunlight once more breaching the tree canopy. The album's showpiece track is the brooding Violet. With a rare darker tone and an overbearing piano, Huld unearths a series of exquisite hooks for a track that champions inner strength, confidence and peace.
There is a gorgeous simplicity to Dare To Dream Small. In an era where almost every popular album feels produced to within an inch of its life, it is so pleasing to hear a record that feels untouched. Huld's voice has a quality that ranges from timeless to other-worldly, as comfortable in its lower moments as it is soaring high above the uncomplicated instrumental arrangements that give it every opportunity to shine. Her graceful inflection is endearing and, when combined with the truth and authenticity of her lyrics, makes for an album that could act as a blanket on a cold night or as a glorious beacon of light beckoning you across unexplored terrain.
Then again, I might be wrong. I am a Musical Moron, after all...
Lyric Of The Month
“Rain may come//Put your good shoes on”
Take Me Dancing
Hafdís casts love in new lights
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