A breathtaking tapestry of gorgeous, intimate indie folk, Siv Jakobsen’s ‘A Temporary Soothing’ is a tender and raw upheaval that promises to enchant the ears, ensnare the heart, and tranquilize the soul.
for fans of Daughter, Iron & Wine, Novo Amor, Gregory Alan Isakov
Stream: “Anywhere Else” – Siv Jakobsen
Siv Jakobsen’s sophomore album was always meant to offer moments of solace and respite away from a turbulent world.
Little did Jakobsen know just how badly her music would be needed, and how perfectly it would capture the worldwide inertia and anxiety of its time. A breathtaking brush of gorgeous, intimate indie folk, A Temporary Soothing is a tender and raw upheaval that promises to enchant the ears, ensnare the heart, and tranquilize the soul.
Ooh, I don’t know
How to rid myself of fear
So I keep walking
It takes me so long
To get anywhere else but here
Oh, it follows me out
Keeps me captive and out of range
– “Anywhere Else,” Siv Jakobsen
Released August 21, 2020 via U OK?, A Temporary Soothing is the stirring and stunning sophomore album from Norwegian singer/songwriter Siv Jakobsen. The follow-up from 2017’s debut album The Nordic Mellow is heartfelt and wholesome, finding Jakobsen working with producer Chris Bond (Ben Howard, Nick Mulvey) and mixing engineer Zach Hanson (Bon Iver, Tallest Man on Earth, Waxahatchee) as she sets out to evoke a mesmeric adventure through anxiety, transition, fear, mental health, self-doubt, restlessness, and fulfillment.
Born out of isolation and introspection, A Temporary Soothing is transcendent – as much a soundtrack to meditation and stillness, as it is a vessel of movement and growth.
Its songs are elevating, moving journeys of emotional indulgence and sonic exploration. Album opener “Fear the Fear” dives deep with lyrics of reflection and internal overhaul and questioning, whilst musically Jakobsen blends the electronic with the acoustic alongside layer of seductive vocal harmonies. It’s everything and nothing all at once; a majestic tapestry purposefully meant to build us up and break us down. “Fight or Flight” offers further ruminative depth – this is to be a hallmark of her artistry throughout the record – as Jakobsen injects energy into her music. In premiering the song earlier this year, Atwood Magazine‘s Nick Matthopoulos described “Fight or Flight” as a chill, entering like a cold gust: “The atmosphere is a sentimental waning that Jakobsen is able to invoke with a delicate proficiency, both lyrically and musically.”
“To live, to love, to leave, to stay,” Jakobsen muses, considering what it means to be partnered with someone for life, and how that connection develops as its own entity over time. While she may spend much of her time asking questions, Jakobsen comes out of A Temporary Soothing with few answers; the goal of meditation, after all, is not to gain meaning, but rather to increase understanding – and one of the key ways we do that, is by knowing what we’re asking, and why we want the answer.
For Jakobsen, A Temporary Soothing is the deepest and most personal work of her career. That much is obvious from listening to such songs as “Shine” and “A Feeling Felt or a Feeling Made,” the latter of which finds the artist in a particularly deep moment of personal reckoning:
I am a slave to the release of the song in my throat
The roar of the folk in the empty auditoriums
As I sing before the real stars shine
I feel it like an echo, calling my name
It knows I need it, to feel the euphoria
The release of the deepest notes I keep
And I wonder if loneliness is a feeling felt or a feeling made
Do we make it up as we go along to feed our poetic lines
A hollow in my insides, I’m keeping it clear
For the flicker, the flame, the friction that I need
So I nurse it, to have, to hold, to keep
And I wonder if loneliness is a feeling felt or a feeling made
Yes I wonder if loneliness is a feeling felt or a feeling made
Do we make it up as we go along to feed our poetic lines
Are we in control? Are we manufacturing our states of mind for personal gain of some kind? To what degree can we claim ownership over our environments, outlets, and wellbeing? Jakobsen seems to continue this inward crisis on “Fraud, Failure,” wandering from head to hand and back again as she goes through the motions of creation:
I bring to the light of day
Only lines carefully made
Wouldn’t want you knowing
The words I keep beneath the rhythm and the rhyme
These precious lines I write
Were surely born as lies
So I only show the words I know
Will keep in the heat of light of day
And as I write the words escape like
shooting bits of blue to crumbled bits of paper
The only place to truly know my mind
The heart is a masterpiece
The brain is to blame for keeping it bleeding
To justify an idle life on paper
These are the kind of existential observations for which there is no inherent “right” or “wrong,” even if from the outset we may be inclined to pick sides. They join an inspiring canvas of reflections and immersions as Jakobsen takes space to roam freely through pastures of doubt and insecurity, satisfaction and desire, connection and seclusion.
Still, it feels like she’s not singing for herself, but rather for us: As individualized as it longs to be, A Temporary Soothing is a universal spiritual cleanse.
By the time her celestial voice bids its farewell amongst a suite of beautiful strings and percussion on “I Call It Love,” Siv Jakobsen has brought listeners on a deep dive through the nether reaches of the soul. Those listening carefully are sure to learn a thing or two about themselves (and many more about the Norwegian artist); and even those giving the most cursory ear to this music will come away with a feeling of catharsis and renewal. The magic of such well-orchestrated, intimate music is that it gives back as much, if not more than it takes – and at a time when we’ve lost so much, A Temporary Soothing is our much-needed oasis, sanctuary, and asylum.
Drinks and drugs and caffeine
Runs wild through his frame
To fill a void beneath his skin
It’s a hollow float
A temporary soothing
That’s alright, it’s only life
It floats away with the morning light
That’s alright, it’s only life
It floats away with time
But I can’t feel his breathing
I can’t feel his heart beating
– “Only Life,” Siv Jakobsen
Experience the full record via our below stream, and peek inside Siv Jakobsen’s A Temporary Soothing with Atwood Magazine as the singer/songwriter goes track-by-track through the music and lyrics of her sophomore album!
Stream: ‘A Temporary Soothing’ – Siv Jakobsen
:: Inside A Temporary Soothing ::
Fear The Fear
Fear the fear was written about a lingering worry I had that I wouldn’t be able to create well if I was well, happy and content with my life. Fear is a big element in my general state of being, and I’m often run by it. Once I’d had the thought that perhaps my good songs would be behind me if I was in a truly happy place I couldn’t get away from it for a long time. This song helped me get that spiralling fearfulness out of my system.
Fear The Fear was the first song recorded for the album – it was the ‘test’ track I did with my producer Chris to see if we were a good fit. It turned out sounding better than I could have ever imagined, and felt like the opening into a new sonic world for me as an artist. It was a really magical process to record this one, one that I think got Chris, Bear and I really excited about making an album together.
Fight or Flight
For Fight or Flight I had this image of a very old couple lying in bed together – still and stuck to the bed-frame, at the end of their life, taking their final breaths together. The song developed into a broader look upon what it is to stay with someone forever, to make that decision and be certain about it. To love someone and to receive love isn’t always easy, and giving yourself to someone so completely can be frightening and all consuming.
I remember writing it very quickly one day in my flat – it sort of just fell out of me. I had a thought about wanting to write something rhythmically interesting, after a few months of writing a lot of slower, melancholic songs – and this was the result. In the studio Chris was able to really emphasise the rhythmic elements of the song, and make them come to life in a really beautiful way. This track makes me want to dance, which isn’t something I ever thought would happen from any of my songs.
I wrote shine for someone I hold close who was struggling with feeling low and unenthused with life. It can be incredibly difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel when you’re already feeling low, which is something I think most humans can relate to. It was interesting for me just how easy it was to feel confident that someone else’s life could and would get better and brighter, when I myself can struggle to see the very same thing for myself. Shine has thus become more than a song to cheer up someone else, it’s also now a reminder to myself that there is no light without dark, and that we cannot feel happy all of the time. For me, accepting that sadness is there diminishes the weight of the sadness, and helps me see and move toward the glimmer at the end of the tunnel.
We had a lot of fun recording Shine – Chris and I ended up recording the drums, guitar and my lead vocals live, which made the song feel really intimate. My favourite part was probably constructing the ending – adding layers and layers of harmonies, guitars, keys and lots of other textures.
A Feeling Felt or a Feeling Made
I wrote a feeling felt or a feeling made in the first months after getting off of my last album-campaign. I was feeling increasingly insecure about my work and also an increasing dread about my own possible destructiveness in relation to my creative process. I kept asking myself if I am the creator or enabler of the friction that allows and helps me to write songs, because I feel such a strong need to write, perform and release music.
I was lucky to be able to bring my friend and band-mate Sofie to the studio to record fiddle and hardingfele for the album. She is responsible for the beautiful strings on this track, which took it to another level. The addition of the kalimba alongside the strings makes the track so ethereal and almost other-worldly, I’m so happy with the way this one turned out.
This is the only co-write on the album. I brought it to my good friend Matt Ingram to work on, after having felt quite stuck with it for a while. Matt actually produced my last album The Nordic Mellow, and throughout the process of recording it I realised what a great songwriter he was. We finished the song together, and he really helped bring the song to life.
The song touches on feelings of imposter syndrome. I felt for a long time that I was just placed in this job by accident, that sooner or later someone would ‘find me out,’ realise that I shouldn’t be here. I don’t really feel that way anymore thankfully, – this song was the accumulation of years of insecurity, and helped me get those feelings out of my system.
A Temporary Soothing + Anywhere Else
I wrote Anywhere Else after having a vivid and quite terrifying dream, where I was behind the wheel of a car, driving, but with absolutely no control over it. I am no fan of driving, and this dream made me feel properly afraid to even try. This, coupled with a strange experience at a doctors appointment, made this song almost write itself.
We went through so many versions of this song in the studio, trying to find the perfect musical balance to compliment the lyric. We had a hard time with it, dressing it in many different sonic outfits, until we decided to strip it back to it’s core and then build from there. The addition of Sofie’s harding-fiddle really brought it to life – the intro to the song (A Temporary Soothing) was arranged by Sofie and Chris, and it’s one of my favourite moments on the album.
Island is about my need for creative freedom, my urge to forever keep my creative freedom 100% my own. For a while I felt a bit pigeon-holed to one genre, one emotional state – I felt as though my music was projected to the outside world in a way that felt alienating and out of my control. I had a couple experiences on my last album run where i felt a bit invaded, being asked to answer questions that were incredibly intimate and personal within a very public setting. The song is a sort of reminder to myself to always keep my creativity free and my personal space personal, to allow myself, in the choices I make in my career, to retain the freedom to make the music I want to make, work with the people I want to work with, and let them in turn be creatively free when collaborating with me.
Island was probably the song I had the most fun recording. We started it quite late in the albums recording process, so we all felt very comfortable and free to try out any crazy ideas we had. The drum machine in the beginning was originally there as a guide, but we ended up liking it so much that we kept it in. If someone had tried to even mention a drum machine to me in the past I would have laughed at the idea of it, but the process of this album, and especially this song, helped me open up to new sonic ideas, and made me realise that not everything has to sound soft and beautiful.
Only life is my gentle attempt at writing about what it’s like to be close to someone who struggles with their mental health. A lot of the time we are told to just pick ourselves up and “get over it,” and I’ve seen first hand how this can lead to attempting to numb the pain with substances and destructive behaviour. Still, I wanted the track to feel soothing and uplifting, as a reminder to the listener that it can get better, no matter how bad it may be right now.
We recorded this song during the second session for the album, where I in classic fashion ended up with the flu for the entire week. We spent hours working on the background vocals for this track, mainly because my voice was almost completely gone. I sounded a bit like a whispery choir boy, but it ended up really working in the track.
From Morning Made To Evening Laid
This is another song that took on many forms in the recording process. We chopped it up and put it back together in many different ways before we found its right form. The end section is one of my favourite moments on the record – I wanted it to feel like a big release of frustration and anxiety. I was feeling sick of and annoyed with how I was feeling and I wanted to sonically shout it out of my system. The song is about the intensity of anxiety when it’s all you can feel and all you can think about, and yet you don’t even truly realise it’s there. It sometimes makes me feel like I’m inside out and upside down, confused and uncomfortable.
Mothecombe + I Call It Love
I Call It Love is an unconditional declaration of love and gratitude. It’s probably the ‘happiest’ song I’ve ever released, and it felt special to me the moment I wrote it. I’ve always found it hard to write about the happier emotions, it tends to feel flat in comparison to the real experience. So writing this felt like a turning point for me, finding space for happiness in my writing.
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? © Jørgen Nordby
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