It’s a beautifully sunny day and I am by the coast, so it seemed perfectly synchronous to put up the video to Louien’s new single ‘Second Best’ which is a perfect slow-motion dream of diving into, and swimming in, crystal clear water shot, directed and edited by Marthe Amanda Vannebo.
I’ve been reviewing Louien’s music since 2019’s exceptional album None Of My Words and in a crowded market of Americana she writes breath-taking songs which showcase her voice which has the same beauty mixed with vulnerability that Karen Carpenter has. Louien can command the low end of her range, as she does in the verses of ‘Second Best’ but when she takes off in the chorus the world dissolves and a reverie descends. It’s also another great example of the understated but perfect production of long-time collaborator Øyvind Røsrud Gundersen.
Of the song, Louien says “I grew up learning that some emotions are good and some bad. Later in life I’ve learned that emotions are emotions, and that they only become dangerous when we label them as such and let them scare us. This song came from my process of understanding this, and from meeting people who’d been taught that it’s safe to be emotional from a young age.”
‘Second Best’ is taken from the forthcoming record Figure Me Out which will be released on 16 September.
Review by Paul F Cook