Anyone who knows me knows that Sumie is one of my all-time favourite artists, and were she to release a four LP set singing the Swedish telephone directory accompanied by paper and comb and a vacuum cleaner I would buy it (probably twice). Thankfully this is unlikely to happen and her new Swedish language single ‘Drömbrus (Live Från Vardagsrummet)’ is yet another beautiful addition to her catalogue of two albums for the Bella Union label – Sumie and Lost in Light – an EP – Mirou – and one self-published single ‘Upp Ur Mörkret’.
“Drömbrus”, Sumie explained to me is “Very hard for me to translate and the closest I can get is “Dream noise” (live from the living room) ” brus” is like the humming audio sound of a radio between radio channels or the sound of an ocean from a distance.” And like many of her tracks it floats in a dreamlike space between waking and sleeping.
Despite being a guitarist and piano player herself, Sumie asked Håkan Wirenstrand to play the piano and the track ended up being recorded live in his living room. Håkan is the keyboard player in Little Dragon (the band in which Sumie’s sister is the singer) and his playing is exquisite; simple at the start, as if playing a lullaby, and then increasingly expansive as he adds harmony and flourish to Sumie’s voice, even echoing her phrasing at times. Sumie’s voice is exceptional here; fragile at the start, almost threatening to crack, and then slowly it climbs over the landscape of the piano, out of the window and up into the night sky. I may not understand the Swedish words, but I feel everything that her voice conveys.
Drömbrus is all the stronger for not being recorded in the dry environment of a studio and the sound of the room, the creak of the piano stool and pedals become part of the personality of the track, and you can almost breathe in the air circulating in the recording. The overall feeling of the song is that of embers in a fire, still glowing and giving off warmth, and I am once again stunned by the bruised perfection of Sumie as a singer/songwriter who has yet to release anything that diminishes my opinion that she is one of the finest singers around.
Review by Paul F Cook