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Kari Rueslåtten - The Collection

Kari Rueslåtten – CD Review
The Collection

Kari Rueslatten




CD Info
12 Tracks
English Lyrics (8 tracks) Norwegian Lyrics (4 tracks)

In celebration of her twenty years in music, the lovely Norwegian Soprano, Kari Rueslåtten (ex-The 3rd and the Mortal, The Sirens), has released an anthology called The Collection. Included in this album are two songs from each of her previously released solo albums, plus two live versions from her “Time to Tell” Tour this year. The listener is taken on a journey through her music career, with a song from the original band, and some nice close harmonies. Kari’s soft, crystal clear voice is evident throughout the songs with clear, powerful, and sometimes emotional lyrics. One is compelled to relive her journey in music as shown by her vocal and instrumental (keyboards) superb abilities. Previously, this year, she released a fifth album, Time to Tell, which included a newer version of “Why So Lonely.”

Kari, a true pioneer in female-fronted bands, has paved the way for later female soloists and bands featuring female vocalists. Her soft vocals, unusual in a metal band, along with The 3rd and the Mortal, have been credited with inspiring bands like Nightwish and The Gathering. Kari’s musical background is a mixture of Classical and Norwegian Folk Music which makes it difficult to describe her voice. At times she has been compared to Tori Amos and Kate Bush, the latter having also made a return to the stage this year. In addition, she is currently performing in The Sirens along with Anneke Van Giersbergen and Liv Kristine.

While a founding member of The 3rd and the Mortal, a progressive doom metal band, in 1994, the band released two albums, Sorrow and Tears Laid in Earth. Kari left the band in 1995 to start her solo career. As part of her solo career, she released Spindelsinn (1997), Mesmerized (1998), Pilot (2002), and Other People’s Stories (2005). Spindelsinn also earned her a Norwegian Grammy Nomination. After an eight year break, Time to Tell (2014) was released and a tour also promoted this album. Kari sums up the idea concerning The Collection in the following way:

“I find it hard to believe that it has actually been 20 years since I first released music, but since it is, it is the right time to look back and sum up my musical career so far. My five solo albums have all their special meaning to me and I have chosen two songs from each album for the Collection. We also did live recordings of the concerts on the Time to tell tour so there will be two live songs on the Collection as well”

For this review, I will look at the songs by the album from which they were taken. “Other People’s Stories” is the first song taken from the 2005 Other People’s Stories album. The song begins with a light drum beat and sustained synthesized chords. A nice bass line accompanies the vocal part, which is soft and soothing. This actually contradicts the lyrics of the song. When the chorus is repeated multiple times, there is some lovely, close harmony performed between Kari and a male. The lyrics include:

Other people’s stories they are just like mine
But for one thing, I did what they plan
In my darkest hour I just kill your man
With the silver bullet in the barrel of my gun.

I did it for you. I did it for you.

The other song from the same album is “Fishing.” This song is definitely a folk song and Kari sings the first verse a cappella with a lot of improvisation. Her voice is very emotional as she tells about how she has chosen one metaphorically of the fishes. It also speaks of the sacrifice that is made. There is a very light keyboard accompaniment under the sometime raw vocals.

“Why So Lonely” is from the 2014 Time to Tell album and it is a newer version of the original song from when Kari was with the group, The 3rd and the Mortals. What makes this version unique, however, is that the piano and keys are played by Tuomas Holopainen (Nightwish). Here over a light drum part, the piano has a nice countermelody to the vocal part. Kari’s vocal part floats effortlessly over the light accompaniment. In between the verses, Tuomas provides a short, refreshing piano solo. Toward the end of the song, the vocal part becomes stronger, while still floating and the piano has a more chordal sequence. The other song from this album, “Wintersong,” opens with a nicely played piano solo. The piano is the only accompaniment throughout the whole song. With a change to minor for one verse, the song has short piano solo and from time to time, there is a light synthesized chord mixed in. Some of the lyrics to this song include:

Here’s a winter song
Here’s to those who long
For brighter day and summer haze
I cannot lay, I cannot longer wait
This time of year you will find me here
With my shattered dream –
Things are not as they seem
An unbeliever’s only wintersong

“River” is from the 2002 Pilot album and has a guitar accompaniment throughout. There is a nice rock like subtle drum part that comes in and every once in a while there is an electric guitar part added for effect. Some very nice harmony comes out in the chorus and there is a delayed vocal part at times. This song with the different effects is much different than most of the songs. The other song, “Exile,” is similar in that there are different experiments with unique electronic accompanying sounds. In the middle of the song, there is a light broken chord keyboard accompaniment with Kari’s voice floating effortlessly over it. Then they return to the beginning with her semi singing/speaking a verse before the light voice returns. The last part of the song brings a wild, experimental sound electronically before ending softly. Some interesting lyrics:

I ran- but I never turned back
I have deported my own life
Into this foolish splendor
I have brought the beauty of a soul
Cold and dark as the last day
Is the image of the dream
That made it all worth-while in exile

From the 1998 Mesmerized album is the song “Make Me a Stone,” a true ballad. This song features a light accompaniment of guitar, keyboards, and percussion. The vocals are light, catchy, and feature some lovely harmony. The lyrics are interesting and presently in a very pleasant manner. “My Love,” the other song is also emotional in nature. This song opens with sustained keyboard chords and a light drum beat. The lyrics have the vocalist remembering her lover and Kari brings out those lyrics with the right emotional touch. The instrumental parts become stronger toward the end and her voice becomes stronger as the memory increases. Some lyrics include:

All the grief that I have caused is
Nothing now, compared to this
All the grief that I have given him
Is nothing now, compared to this
And I can see him as he lies there
And I can see him in his grave

The other four songs, including the live ones, are from the first album Spindelsinn released in 1997. Also, these four songs are in Norwegian and include my favorite song as well. The two live songs are both similar, yet different. While listening to them, it was difficult to tell that they were live because they did not have what one expects from a live version. Except for the vigorous clapping at the end of the song, there is not a sound outside of the performers, unusual to say the least. “Nordnatt” (Night of the North) is sung completely a cappella, by Kari. Her voice is crystal clear, with sustained notes and a haunting quality. This is one of the songs in which she uses vibrato and the upper range of her voice effectively. The other live song, “Trollferd,” opens with what sounds like an accordion playing the melody. This is replaced by a synthesized sustained chord and a light ostinato underneath. Her voice is stronger, with a slight lilt, as if she is on the journey that is portrayed with the lyrics. She sustains the notes well throughout the song. A slightly distorted sound similar to a guitar plays a soft countermelody to the voice for the second half of the song. Another song from the same album is “Spindelsinn.” This song features a lot of synthesized keys with a lot of sequenced sounds rising and falling throughout. There is a pulsating, driving drum pattern that repeats throughout the whole song until right before the end. The vocals are strong and stay above all the electronic background music.

This brings me to my favorite song on the album, which is also from Kari’s earliest album released in 1997. The song, “Hör Min Sång,” (Hear My Song) is in Norwegian and that added to the allure of this song. Fortunately I was able to find a translation of the lyrics, but it would still be my favorite even if I didn’t have the translation. This song and her voice have a slight drive to them, almost like an incantation, and lead the listener to want to hear that song. With an a cappella opening, she is joined with a light percussion and synthesized arpeggiated chords. After a tambourine enters, we hear a stronger percussion part during the chorus. Synthesized sustained chords replace the broken chords in the second verse. The second chorus features some harmony in the second part. Kari’s vocal have a hypnotizing quality to them especially in the chorus. It makes the listener want to listen to what she is singing. The vocals are soft, entrancing and with the third chorus, we have very close harmony for the whole chorus. The lyrics for the chorus and second verse are as follows:

Hear my song across salty seas – from infinite time
Over mountains and through deep woods – into dreams
I can see you sleep now – my dear
All winds, give me life and hear my song

Silently hands stretch themselves
Out of darkness and caress my hair
“Come child, let us go further into the woods
Rest your head, and you shall see him again ere break of day”

The Collection is a very good anthology celebrating Kari’s twenty years of music. With the nice acoustic touch, all the songs that were chosen show a growth and maturity from her solo career. Because she recently completed a tour after eight years, and released a new CD, shows that her voice and music are still admired. Add the fact that she is touring with The Sirens, means to me, that her voice is still as strong and compelling to her fans worldwide. If you are not familiar with her music, this album is definitely a must, because it is a great introduction to her previously released music. Additional information about Kari may be found at the following websites: