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On Thursday, Icelandic folk artist Sóley came into the studio to perform a live set for WERS in preparation for Reykjavik Calling at the Paradise, where she will be performing alongside Ásgeir Trausti, The Adam Ezra Group, and Kris Delmhorst.
Sóley, a member of the Icelandic folk collective Seabear, began her solo career in 2010 with the release of the EP Theatre Island on German label Morr Music. Since then she’s released a full length album titled We Sink (2011), and performed in cities all over the world.
On a blog post written the morning of her WERS performance, Sóley wrote that “Performing is like opening up your body and giving your blood to somebody who needs it.” This attitude was at the forefront of her performance in the studio, where she captivated all of us. Her voice, though seemingly delicate, is absolutely commanding. Each syllable she sang revealed another tiny portion of herself for those present to admire, and yet somehow she was never came off as vulnerable.
There’s also her musicianship to consider. Sóley demonstrated her skill at playing both the guitar and piano in her performance. She seemed like the sort of person who could probably learn to play any instrument she feels like. That said, her talent is by no means limited to her ability to play. The compositions on her records are tight; she has a keen for melody and mood, which she demonstrates on songs that are as catchy as they are foreboding. Take the eerie “Kill the Clown” for example. There’s something slightly unsettling about Sóley’s music. It’s beauty is often marked by undertones of violence, a theme that is re-occurrent in her lyrics and often reflected in the bleak atmosphere of her music. It sounds a lot like one might imagine Iceland to sound like.
Still, she manages to be charming. When the host of the performance told her to “take it away,” she replied, “Thank you, I will,” rousing laughter from all of us in the sound booth. She later expressed that her favorite shows to play are those where “people are sitting down and listening because [she] can create some really nice moments.” That desire for communion between performer and audience is sadly lost to many artists nowadays.
Sóley is set to collaborate onstage with Kris Delmhorst at Reykjavik Calling, though the two will not meet until soundcheck the day of the concert. The two have been sharing songs with each other via email and are preparing independently for the performance. When asked if that was nerve-racking for her, Sóley asked, “I don’t know, is it supposed to be nerve-racking?” Clearly she’s confident. Though the two artists are vastly different in style, they are sure to come up with something interesting for us to see and hear on Saturday.
The Reykjavik Calling concert is a free 18+ event that will be hosted this Saturday, March 9 by WERS in partnership with Iceland Naturally to promote cultural exchange between Boston and the City of Reykjavik. We hope to see many of you in attendance to enjoy the sure-to-be wonderful performances. Doors are at 8 p.m. and music will begin at 8:30.