Reviews

WE HAVE TIGERS

We Have Tigers_1

Star Rating:****”Instant karma! Both admiring Ennio Morricone, Inga Liljeström and film composer Michael Lira chiselled a bouquet of twelve original creations and cover versions of ancient ballads brought by European migrants in the Appalachians. The bewitching voice of one and the baroque arrangements
and lyrical of the other
blend into a visual and sensory universe where words and melodies are like the characters of a tale or reminiscences
of previous lives. Inga, Anglo-Finnish born
in Australia and Dolly Parton fan, Nick Cave
or Townes Van Zandt, experiences her voice sometimes dark or bright, heartbreaking or stripped. An album at once powerful, wild, intimate, which conceals within it
a wonderful recovery from “Where Did You Sleep Last Night?” Loraine Adam, Rolling Stone, France

 

Star Rating: **** “From my first moments with this album, looking at the cover art and then with the opening bars, I instantly had flashbacks to 2014’s smash hit television show True Detective. We Have Tigers could very easily have been used as the soundtrack to that wonderfully dark and mesmerising show.

With understated but impactful use of instrumentation to set this brooding but also beautifully intriguing atmosphere, the vocals here truly stand out as the focal point.

A unique use of non-traditional musical elements such as rain and storm sounds – alongside guitars, double bass, clarinet, flute, banjo and percussion elements – makes this album captivating throughout, and one that beckons multiple play throughs. (JA)THE HUB- ALTMEDIA.NET.AU

9/10 ” For this new album, Inga joins forces with Australian composer Michael Lira, known for his film music ( The Hunter with Willem Dafoe) . Lira plays all the instruments. Inga sings, wrote most texts and plays acoustic guitar. We will add that she takes care of the visual again, very successful.

What is surprising at first listen is the use of spaces and silences. The duo does not forbid any artifice but never abuses it. As paradoxical as it seems, each title has its own universe, most often in the restraint and without effects of the sleeve. The strings are dominant, the guitars, the violin of course, but as in the cinema, dressing and framing are essential. We have Tigers remake the timeless disc, simply beautiful with real magic moments in “In the pines”, majesty too.

Playing the western card, heard at Ennio Morricone , the duo is never caricatural. The powerful vocal interpretation – placement, accuracy, elocution, everything is there – and the good taste of the arrangements gives a nice cohesion, timeless, of course. We have Tigers was born in 2015 (realized in 6 months); it could have been in 1972 and probably in 2024. That said, we must take into account the production work – chiseled – that makes the whole astonishingly modern…. her dream world so rich.”www.coreandco.fr Eric D-Toorop Translated from French

“Could there be any genre more fraught with possible potholes for a caucasian artist to tackle this far into the 21st century than the blues? As the western world begins to react violently against cultural appropriation of any form (another debate for which I must confess to not being particularly fond – what culture in history has not rubbed up against and then borrowed from some other culture?), the blues comes with its own history of white appropriation dating back to the late 50s and 60s, appropriations which, in turn, have birthed some of western music’s most horrid clichés and tedious dead-ends, especially for guitar players who appear to have particular difficulty seeing past its supposed omnipotence.

For her part, Inga Liljeström, on this new collaborative effort with long time off-sider, Michael Lira, continues along the path which she has always followed. An enigmatic noir can be observed throughout her winding musical trajectory. And a growing Euro-centric approach is the key to her success on this album of covers of songs that are generally pushing around 100 years old – in just their recorded forms, let alone their pre-histories of word of mouth development – mixed with original songs in a sympathetic vein. Firstly, blues guitar is not heard across the collection – the odd chime of Morricone-esque twang, near shoegaze texture or spanish guitar arpeggio are the places the 6-strings are allowed to venture – not a single bent-note histrionic in earshot. Instead, fully orchestrated soundscapes are developed – strings, dark piano, oboes, clarinets and melodicas, delicately sweeping cellos and double basses. The closest Liljeström comes to blues tradition is on ‘When I Was A Young Girl’, where she acapellas her performance to the backdrop of a light rain storm, but her voice avoids any real back-porch associations. And it is this voice which is central to the album.

Liljeström has developed, over the last decade and a half, an evocative vocal instrument which rarely breaks from a dark restraint, even when the music around her, such as in ‘Horses’ on this collection, head towards a climactic tumult. At times the orchestral style backing also tugs me to think of Marlene Dietrich, but it’s the near whisper that she often employs which is most striking, particularly as she manages to keep it completely melodic. The Berlin cabaret aural æsthetic also comes as no surprise when Michael Lira’s back catalogue is teased out. Most particularly, the gypsy moods of one of his regular groups, Monsieur Camembert, are evoked, but his strong understanding of film soundtrack creation is also clearly apparent. At times, the full orchestral effect is reminiscent of early Sufjan Stevens at his most baroque, but these moments are quickly contrasted on We Have Tigers by much more understated, sometimes even skeletal, tracks to create a sprawling array of melancholy moods, befitting the lyrical subject matter.

About half the tracks are traditional blues songs, some ubiquitous standards (‘In The Pines’, ‘(Wo)Man Of Constant Sorrow’, etc), others a little more obscure. The other half are penned by Liljeström, with input from Lira and a few others. All flow seamlessly together. It’s interesting that it’s the cover songs that are generally adorned by the more traditional instrumentation. ‘Tea To Boil’ is Liljeström’s ethereal wail with dueling banjos and teaspoon percussion, before some double bass, snare and jews harp build the finale, whereas the original ‘Bloodstain’, probably the album’s æsthetic and emotional centrepiece, sees Lira’s full orchestration almost manage to drown Ljljeström’s voice.

We Have Tigers is a success because it doesn’t treat the past as nostalgia, but as raw material for the artists to express their own conceptual and emotional impulses. There is rawness, polish, beauty and grit across the tracks. The sounds and arrangements are diverse, yet a consistent mood is draped across everything, a mood which slowly and gently sucks you into its web.” CyclicDefrost, Adrian Elmer

 

TWO DANGERS

Inga cover final4 Stars. The much- travelled Inga Liljestrom can do, and has done, pretty much anything, from art-rock to dance. Still, an album of sometimes bare folk was probably not why anyone was expecting, though there’s  no surprise to find she’s doing it so well. Opening with the traditional ‘Katie Cruel’ (sounding very much the modern Karen Dalton) and nearly ending with Cat Steven’s ‘Trouble’ (sounding much earthier and compelling than the old Cat) might suggest familiar travels, but that’s not how Liljestrom works. Her own songs dominate, with tracks such as ‘Wishing Bone'(‘A whittled girl meets her wooden maker/ Carve a heart out of me sir”) and ‘Bloodstain'(“It’s the kill it’s the bloodstain/ it’s the way he says my name”) early on putting a level of discomfit underneath violin or banjo. And the almost buoyant ‘Bird’, the uneasy string-enhanced ‘Crestfallen’ and the beautifully interior ‘Some Say (I Got Devil) hold you intently. Bernard Zuel Sydney Morning Herald. Australia. 

4 Stars. You’ve probably already heard Inga Liljestrom’s powerful vocals without even realising it, on TV shows like Rake and Blood Brothers, but that’s just the tip of an incredibly diverse career that’s seen the Sydney-based singer/songwriter collaborate with the likes of Gotye, The Church and Itch-E & Scratch-E over just the last ten years alone.

The thirteen tracks collected here could perhaps be best described as ‘haunted country-noir’…positively drips with goosebump-y atmosphere. While Liljestrom’s remarkable vocals represent a compelling centrepiece on their own, it’s the depth of interplay with the instrumental arrangements that heightens the levels of tension on a yearning cover of traditional folk song ‘Katie Cruel’. Elsewhere ‘Wooden Leg’ sees swooping violins adding a chill-inducing European cinematic edge to Liljestrom’s obsessive-sounding chanteuse vocal. It’s not hard to see why The Church describe Liljestrom as one of Australia’s best kept secrets and this could easily be her best album yet. http://www.bmamag.com/articles/cd-reviews/20140825-inga-liljestrom/

Inga Liljeström unveils an album tinged with a poignant and fascinating sensitivity. This woman is precious…enjoy her tales with sensitivity and attention. In Two Dangers, Inga proves that she knows how to show her musical gifts. This girl is a jack of all trades: electro, alternative rock, folk, country, experimental … Today, the artist has chosen to speak through intimate acoustic folk songs- ballads inhabited with wounds still painful. The songs are a mix of folk to blues, with lavish 50’s bewitchery. It tears us,  this famous tremor in her voice like butterflies that travel furiously in our guts, as does the delicate vocals pierce us. The stories told by Inga are beautifully poignant, it’s even with some regret, that I share it with you. This woman is like a treasure we want to keep forever for ourselves. Lilie Del Sol Indierockmag.com (translated from French).

adventurer, lover of the American heritage, traveler, still, she manage to make a difference. Her voice visit genres with a great virtuosity and probably benefits from the many visited countries. There is true freedom within the titles of this young woman. It does not scatter. She knows what she wants. Inga demonstrated a well quenched character. It’s a real danger to smooth it. She avoids that with a passion extending to every moment. Inga is a sacred character to discover! etatcritique.com (translated from French)

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“Her folk or even country tunes, bring an atmosphere reminiscent of Joan Baez, Leonard Cohen and the Cowboy Junkies. It’s soft, poetic, and always quite melancholic, but the captivating voice of this singer full of promises illuminates the tracks with a serene strength. See you in New Orleans or in the far West. And we love it.” femina.fr (translated from French)

“What appeals primarily with Inga is this incredible blues voice that instantly conveys a blues culture imbued with America, but not only this… ‘Two Dangers’, her third album, is particularly successful in confirming her talents with everything involved in creating and performing music that is as much about the country folk and folk blues as the blues itself, or rather,  ‘the blues’the persuasiveness of a first single  “Wishing Bone Hands ” that can not leave the listener indifferent. To consume without moderation! by Fred Delforge zicazic.com (translated from French)IngaL15

 

 

“Inga is the name of lights that no one knew to survive in the end of our longings, our disliked loves, our childhoods vast beaches, and the voice of our millions of mothers informing us of the misery to come…as the light of her voice bathes us in the shadow of sensations, the art of Inga, did I tell you, this way of painting impressionist, from splash of color to splash of color until finding in the whole vision of the places of we, the place of all, this easy-space of melodies, simple sounds, supports an emerging human myth, small shiny notes, whose rays stir, the depths, the grief, these squalors that we keep as a precious necklace, but never show. …a voice that a body lay on a pedestal, an instrument of meaning, a storyteller we wish to adopt as our own legends, singing her beautiful little life as we whisper I love you, shyly, a slightly fear of a no, a fear of rushing, naive talent, a touch of paint that barely grazed our canvas. So if you want to rest your minds from hardness of metals, take this hand, Swedish, Australian, French, or, more wisely, sit where she wants to show you the world, her delicate world.” by Guillaume Mazel adecouvrirabsolument.com (translated from French)

 

BLACK CROW JANE

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“Something truly happens when beautiful voices of the north attack folk music. The etiquette is strange, with a distant legacy of Kate Bush alternating between perfect nursery rhymes for adults and unnerving rock epics…an assault of fire and ice. A small marvel of poetry who caresses as much as she cuts.” (Journal Ventrilo, France)

“…an undeniable mastery in writing, composition, production, arrangements, visual – a breath and power that does not evaporate, as in many others…Between rock and cabaret Gothic Inga Liljeström with her ominous incantations, she reminds us that before her, another Australian came to Europe to impose his unique vision under high influence of tortured crooner: Nick Cave.”(Telerama, Hugo Cassavetti, France)

Inga Liljestrom

This is the album you have been waiting for. You, that is, who have seen Inga Liljestrom live, who have listened to her first two albums, and who have waited for six years for album number three to materialise. While 2005’s ELK garnered much deserved acclaim, there remained a feeling that Liljestrom was a work in progress, that there was better to come, and with Black Crow Jane she has delivered. The albums opening track The Rain and the Sea is a standout, its hushed beginnings blossoming and expanding into dirty blues roots number that sweeps itself overboard. Black Crow Jane is the fully realised album Liljestrom has promised, her voice not only both emotive and evocative as before, but now confident and assured.” (Chris Peken, Alternative Media/ City Hub/ City News)

“Occassional Sydneysider Inga Liljestrom seems to fit into the art-rock branch of things, with an ornate cover image, idiosyncratic instrumentation and a singing style that can be arch and sometimes bordering on dark cabaret. But she’s earthier than that, with both a stubborn pop subtext to her songs and a stiffened spine of dangerous rock. Those sides balance spookier excursions, such as Rama and the Rain and The Sea, where Liljestrom cuts sharply.” (Bernard Zuel, Spectrul, Sydney Morning Herald)

“With a delivery that recalls Joanna Newsom and PJ Harvey, and a quixotic approach that matches her obvious Scandinavian antecendants, Inga Liljestrom continues to weave mystery and melody into intriguing pop on her latest French-recorded album, Black Crow Jane.” (Drum Media)

“…Inga is undoubtedly one of those rare artists with an assertive personality…she hid many pearls of sombre and haunting rock. The album starts with The Rain & the Sea, a number with tortured guitars and a biting lament that reveals a dark world accompanying the slightly hoarse (just enough!) voice of Inga Liljeström. But this kind of rock, as tribal as a kind of Patti Smith, is only one of the album’s many attributes. We have just discovered her but you will spend a good few years following her career and future albums, which will not pass you by this time.” 8/10 (Stars Are Underground, France)

“Inga Liljeström is finding inspiration from more traditional American and blues roots these days, rather than the European atmospherics she has been known for in the past. The opening track builds up a genuine excitement as its dry as bones guitars and drums rattle under Liljeström’s always distinctive vocals. The album closes with another minimal track, Liljeström backing herself with simple ukelele on ‘Wildest Horse’. This allows her voice, which is remarkable throughout the album, space to really demonstrate its strengths – evocative and emotional yet never crossing the line into histrionics.

Lyrically there are hints at quiet desperation tempered by a sense of peaceful resolution. Interesting twists of phrase jump out, like ‘Wishing Bone Hands” “And I carry his heart in my song” or “With our hearts in our mouths / Too dry to bleed” from ‘The Rain And The Sea’. Liljeström has pushed herself with Black Crow Jane. Pushed herself into new sonic territory, even though she had a case to stay within the parameters of the sounds she had successfully inhabited in her first two albums. Pushed herself in the depths of lyrical explorations. Pushed herself to not repeat but grow and develop. That Black Jane Crow is far more than an experiment but a polished, rounded and complete work, is a testament to her skill and vision.” (Adrian Elmer, Cyclic Defrost, Australia)

A voice poisonous and addictive...The atmosphere is the string typed, scraped, distorted, twisted, pinched and dammit, THIS VOICE!…We must wait until the third title “Bittersweet” to succumb to the beautiful soft bites…Nude, we are helpless before such a controlled riot…In 10 years, she produced four albums and released a DVD, called to become cult as it seems that everything this artist touches turns to gold. A real discovery.” (Ukhan Kizmiaz, Core and Co, France)

” Jazz and blues were always a noticable undercurrent to Inga’s unique, film noir blend of trip-hop, rock and folk; whereas before they highlighted moments of yearning, mourning and wonder, on this album it’s soulful, sultry and sharply seductive. This time around, sound-wise, the comparisons to both Björk and PJ Harvey (which is not uncommon when it comes to talking about any strong female artist, particularly if their work contains the slightest hint of electronica and/or rock) are not far off the mark; Black Crow Jane has elements akin to the brash, bluesy-rock honesty of Harvey, as well as the playful, curious and occasionally delicately blissful charm of Björk, but (of course) is unmistakably Inga Liljeström. (Satellite of Entropy, Australia)

ELK ALBUM

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CD of the Week “…dripping in emotion it is nothing short of magic. Liljestrom has a voice that is very rich in texture… The album will etch itself on your soul and leave you falling in a dream world created by poetic, but very audible, lyrics. Phoenix is the stand out track; imagine being tossed around by a storm of strings, bass and drums, all held together by a voice that expresses so much with so little effort. Inga’s voice is a fresh sound that is crying to be heard; this album will not disappoint.”(Benjamin Chinnock, The Brag Magazine, Australia)

Brilliant composing, unbelievable string arrangements…Inga’s emotional voice shines on the new movie-like album Elk…”(Trip 404, Finland)

CD Of The Week – 4 Stars. With her sultry vocal delivery set against a cinematic musical backdrop, Liljestrom’s breathy tone is the catalyst to the expansive nature of Elk. It’s lush and atmospheric, dripping with melancholy but never weighed down by its emotive delivery…we have a new star within our midst.” (Zolton Zavos, The Brag Magazine, Australia)

4 Stars “Inga Liljestrom’s voice tickles angels’ ears…Whether it’s flirting with string crescendos that bound over the subtlest electronic programming (Film Noir) or delivering haunted folk over lonely guitar (All Of This), her sultry voice of yesteryear is the mesmerising centerpiece. It slides from dark grooves to delicate whispers, turning simple poetry into the ultimate dark romantic soundtrack…this jazz-trained Sydney singer raises gooseflesh.” (Chloe Sasson, Metro, Sydney Morning Herald, Australia)

Inga Liljestrom

“…What a triumph! …This… is just something else… A long player… of timeless beauty  (DJ Huwston, 3D World Magazine, Australia)

“…A beautifully layered atmospheric pop album….She manges to balance her dark and emotive songwriting with an orchestral depth, with neither dominating the other… In a league of her own…” 5/5 (Hamish Ta-Me, Crema Magazine, Australia)

“Australia’s Inga Liljestrom makes utterly gorgeous electronic music. The aptly titled opener Film Noir sees her lovely vocal competing for attention with some strings that resemble those on Bjork’s Vespertine. The bare accompaniment brings out the best in Liljestrom’s voice. This record is fabulous and Inga Liljestrom deserves to be heard by many.” (Anna Maria Stjarnell, Collected Sounds, USA)

“Sydney-based Inga beat London-based Goldfrapp to this noir-shrouded matinee romanticism by several years, and so it is chronologically incorrect to compare her to the more well-known act. Earlier trailblazers were Marianne Faithfull with (more barbed, austere) Brecht forays, and Kate Bush with the darker side of her wuthering heights. Crushed roses and drawn velvet curtains melancholia, but in the worthy cause of risque passion.  A record that unravels slowly but is instantly inviting and intriguing, and should bring this singer a wider international audience.” (Leslie Sly, Sound & Image Magazine, Australia)

“…powerful, emotive… The dreamy qualities of ‘Lira’ for instance create a mightily seductive musical world with rich colour and texture. Equally ‘Deer’ featuring some gently floating loops and hypnotic harp work from Clare Cooper, evokes a strong sense of cinematic audio.” (Lawrence English, Time-Off magazine, Australia)

“There’s no doubt Liljestrom’s ambition. Like Bjork at her genre-bending best, Liljestrom tries to unite disparate elements into something fresh and new. Swooping orchestral fragments are spliced to jagged beats, and soundtracky atmospherics are wedded to a witchy aesthetic. This is Liljestrom at her best, and it’s tantalising… Vivid and inventive…(Simon Williamson, Beat Magazina, Australia)

“A fog of ominous strings swirls around fractured electronic beats, jazz-tempered double bass glides below like dark shapes under an ice floe and voices echo sonar-like from afar. On top of it all is one of the most arresting voices I’ve heard in a long time. Comparisons with Bjork are inevitable, but inadequate; Liljestrom’s voice does recall her fragility and other-worldliness but is richer and more sensual. There’s a prevailing darkness in the songs, tempered by impressionistic lyrics of love and longing and the shaft of light from the single, Phoenix. The sound is lush and three-dimensional – musical cinema. Elk is un-Australian (in the best possible way), but one of the most exciting releases of the year.” (Dave Curry, The Canberra Times, Australia)

8/10 “Her talent is immense. From the delicate, fragile and otherworldly poetry of her lyrics, to her ghostly, sensual voice, to the skillful and evocative arranging, Liljeström displays an imagination and inspiration that sees her take Elk to soaring heights and sultry depths. Phoenix is dazzling: cello and violins arcing over industrial sighs and breathy silences, all held together by Inga’s astounding voice, gracefully reaching clear highs and husky lows. Your skin will quiver and your heart will rise with the soaring chorus: it is an incredibly beautiful song.”(Shannon, 3D World Magazine, Australia)

“…her music demonstrates vast talent and originality. The music on Elk consists of impressive and complex arrangements, rich with dark orchestral flourishes that suggest film composers such as Ennio Morricone, Angelo Badalamenti and Bernard Herrmann. Although her style is cinematic and opulent it is also beautifully restrained. Orchestras swell and drop away completely, fragmented beats are mixed in as needed and as quickly torn out of the mix.  (Wayne Davidson, Impress Magazine, Australia)

Highly Recomended Drenched in a narcotic otherworldliness, it’s as much an interior journey to the deepest extremes of Inga’s musical well – a sort of seductive one-on-one with an inspired mind. Taken as a whole, the 12 songs are like weather stations in a sea of emotion, to chart a course thru shifting moods and dreamscapes. Elk is many-layered and simple at the same time, impressionistic resonances and overtones as important as the detail. That unique voice of Liljestrom is what brings it all together. Blessed with a fragile/strong feel that can whisper intimacies even when filling the soundscape with primal cries, it’s a voice that focuses listeners and draws them in. That Elk is a (largely) self-penned debut is quite astounding. Liljestrom’s been compared to the likes of Goldfrapp, Portishead and Bjork, but though these might be touchstones, they’re only references. Inga Liljestrom has something sensual and artistic all her own. Highly recommended. (Perry Kilmer, Drum Media Magazine, Australia)

“Latin-American dancing. It was the furthest thing from my mind as Elk slid from my hands, through my hi-fi, into my conscience. Hypnotically fading in from black with Film Noir, the opening track, Inga Liljestrom sets the scene for the next one hour using the language of film and Latin dance. With her production skills she is certainly updating the term “singer-songwriter” for the 21st century. The picked guitar arpeggio in All Of This is arresting in its simplicity, and already feels like I’ve known it a lifetime. Liljeström’s caressing delivery here tells a story more powerfully than the lyric itself.” (Skidkid, IntheMix)

“Bjork can take her latest album Medulla and shove it. Elk’s cinematic swoon will have you dancing in the dark and taking seductive bites from peaches, it’s so sensual…”(Cat magazine)

Inga Liljestrom is Australia’s new, brilliant diva…Her voice is strange and lovely, lilting and powerful. If you pay very careful attention to her music, you can see that she has been listening, to that which is around her, to those strange notes that the night provides us all. But mostly you come back to that amazing voice. Comparisons have been made to Bjork or Lamb, but I say think Ricki Lee Jones if she studied Ella Fitzgerald. She is breathy and dynamic, using her pipes as a tool, as the instrument that they are. Maybe even more of the vitality of Janis Joplin, the emotional grit…. ” (Epinions Site)

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