NORWAY: All My Demons Greeting Me as a Friend - Aurora
Evocative of a Nordic winter, Aurora's debut album features a song you'll never forget
The unusual yet compelling sound of Norwegian singer-songwriter Aurora’s debut album could perhaps be, in part, down to her own self-described isolated childhood and upbringing. Born in the Norwegian town of Stavanger, she moved to a house in the woodlands that surround the mountains of Os at the age of three, a remote land she has compared to the land of Narnia. While she of course had influences from all sorts of places, she cites classical music as a formative influence as well as Enya, Bob Dylan, and Leonard Cohen, that kind of location she grew up in and isolation it provided has surely influenced the folk-pop style of her work. Reading about Aurora you do get the sense that she is someone who moves to the beat of her own drum, and that is reflected in her auteur pop. Furthermore, All My Demons Greeting Me as a Friend is Aurora’s debut album, and debut albums are – usually anyway – interesting affairs as they are often full of personality and passion in a way that can be rather unpolished and raw, yet ideally in a good way. Aurora definitely has a great voice and her style of pop is interesting to listen to from start to finish, yet though this is most certainly a well-produced and polished album, as with many debuts, there are also some problems. That said, on the whole I like this album a great deal.
“During the past nine months I have listened to an ungodly number of albums from all over the world from some of the world’s most famous and acclaimed musicians (as well as many unknown and unacclaimed artists), and for any song to stay in my mind as much as Conqueror has, it’s no mean feat.”
When we discuss the albums that we recommend to one another, Danny and I occasionally have identified a problem that plagues some albums – One Good Song Syndrome. It does pretty much what it says on the tin, where one song is just head and shoulders above the rest, and the other songs are just OK in comparison. All My Demons Greeting Me as a Friend suffers from a similar, though slightly kinder affliction – One Great Song Syndrome, and the song in question is Conqueror, which I absolutely love, and it is simply a cut above the rest of the songs. It’s a glorious mix of synths, powerful drumbeats, and a chorus that is as memorable as it is fun to listen to. The rest of the album simply never quite manages to hit those same highs, though it is still successful on its own terms. However, I don’t want to diminish Aurora’s achievement here. During the past nine months I have listened to an ungodly number of albums from all over the world from some of the world’s most famous and acclaimed musicians (as well as many unknown and unacclaimed artists), and for any song to stay in my mind as much as Conqueror has, it’s no mean feat.
Conqueror is, however, completely different in tone to much of the rest of the album. Conqueror is an uplifting song, whereas the overriding vibe of the rest of the album is far moodier and atmospheric, and that is perhaps why it stands out so much from the rest of the songs. There are other songs I like in the album, namely Running with the Wolves and Through the Eyes of a Child, both of which are suitably spooky in their own way, and succeed in creating a mood, yet none have the pure musical power, in my view anyway, of The One Great Song. They do succeed in evoking images of Scandinavian forests and Norwegian winters, such is the frosty, operatic nature of the music. There’s also a rather good cover of the Oasis classic Half the World Away, a song in my mind so indelibly linked to the utterly fantastic British sitcom, The Royle Family, that when the song ends, I half expect to hear Ricky Tomlinson or Caroline Ahearne talking about their teas. But that, I accept, is probably just me. All in all, the album shows a lot of promise and talent, and it’s an album that makes me interested to seek out more music by Aurora.