Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
People Are Strange
Genres: Alternative Rock, Pop, Rock
1998 & third album by the quirky Swedish songstress. Though she's helped out Vangelis & Yello in the past, the 12 diverse cover tunes rendered on 'People Are Strange' find her going a different musical route that ends up o... more »
1998 & third album by the quirky Swedish songstress. Though she's helped out Vangelis & Yello in the past, the 12 diverse cover tunes rendered on 'People Are Strange' find her going a different musical route that ends up on a bridgewith P.J. Harvey on one side and Massive Attack on the other. A mid-tempo masterpiece not to be missed by fans of either, it includes Stina's interpretations of gems by Rod Stewart, Roy Orbison, Prince, Leonard Cohen, the Doors, Tim Hardin and more! Comes packaged in a red standard jewel case within a full color slipcase cover. An EastWest release.
Warm, sad, thrilling and exceptional
Mr. R. Sullivan | Sudbury, Suffolk, UK | 11/19/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"People Are Strange would convince anyone that this woman will never produce a bad album. She is not capable. Stina Nordenstam has taken eleven songs and completely reinvented them. She has made them her own, and in doing so has created a hauntingly beautiful album that is, by turns, spine-tingling and warm and downright scary. The opening bars of Sailing induces an initial grim premonition, but then the strings come in and the song is lifted effortlessly from the ramblings of a schoolgirl to the truly wonderous. An easy calm then settles because this woman knows exactly what she's doing.
The sleeve art presents a foretaste of what is to come. Stina, hardly recognisable in a variety of guises, some of the pictures out of focus. Sleevenotes seeming to reveal innermost thoughts but not giving anything away at all. There's nothing here that can be used as evidence - make of it what you will. But the compositions bear all the hallmarks of Nordenstam's unique ear. Plucked strings and muted horns; several seconds of orchestration being allowed and then halted; bass-line countermelody and vocal harmony all used to captivating effect. And we should have been prepared for this with Dynamite, yet still the abrasive guitar and industrial noise - metallic drums, machinery clicking repeatedly - comes at us like flint stone against the side of the head. There is an uneasiness present because of the naked quality to the songs, like listening to private recordings, or reading a diary, but then no effort has been made to hide the homegrown origins of the songs. The rain comes down outside the open window, the sounds of the street are allowed to encroach, and at one point we can even hear the whirring of the tape recorder. But the effect of this is to draw us closer to the performer. We are being allowed in to her world for a while. But only for a little while. People Are Strange is not a long album, the songs at times feeling experimental and incomplete, and this never more obvious than on Lonesome road, all tribal drums and muted horns and suddenly its gone, mid-verse.
Experimental and incomplete should not be mistaken for deficient. The album never lacks interest and is often completely beautiful. Bird on a wire is perfect. Brushed acoustic guitar unevenly punctuated with a clattering dissonant drumbeat and a high bar-room piano, carelessly out of tune, lead up to a gorgeous chorus with overlaid voices and a concluding line whispered so close you can feel the breath on your face. Sailing is just two verses stuck together with all the subtlety of a stapler, but nobody cares about that when the strings come in, the plucked cello and ultimately the pizzicato violin complimented by Stina's singular vocal harmonies. And with no intention of being derogatory, this girl can rock. I dream of Jeannie starts off cautiously enough with a thumping, throaty bass until the guitar crashes in with huge swathes of jarring chords driven along by a sharp drumbeat. All this contrasted with an understated, somewhat Vegaesque vocal. The same effect is found on Reason to believe where the strings weave around dislocated guitar harmonics and the piano is allowed to creep in for several notes before leaving. Once more in I came so far for beauty, plucked guitar and a soulful vocal introduction is forced out of the way by jolting chords. Every verse builds and then breaks and eventually gives way to the opening melody line. Like a swallow shows no concern for background noise, the electronic buzz, ever present, brings it all so close. The high point comes with the keyboard melody, until everything comes together for a brief completely moving moment, and then dissipates. And all the time in these songs are Nordenstam's vocal harmonies. Sometimes secretive, set well back, deadened, or high up, they make their way to the forefront like a welcome and comforting companion.
Many emotions can be attached to this album. There is definitely a certain melancholia, especially present on Purple rain, and the title track portrays a real loneliness in keeping with its sentiment. It is perfectly arranged to capture the feeling; sorrowful bass, maudlin strings and plaintive vocal played off against the wonderful clarinet and oboe, all in muted brush-strokes. Yet there is another emotion that finds its way on to this album. Call it what you will - fear, anxiety, dread - but something is present on Come to me. There is a juxtaposition of sounds. Synthetic, percussive, synthesized and metallic, is laid over the noise of people. People talking, yelling, screaming. Sometimes the sounds are played backwards, eerie in itself, and all with Arabic and woodwind instruments winding their way around, in and out, while Stina beckons, "Come to me, my love, come back to me". But this is scary. At the song's close, after the discordant vocal harmony, the fairground ride swells and swings, round and round, creating something very chilling. And it ends with a dwarfish laugh that is truly terrifying. Stina herself notes: "It wasn't until listening back to the DAT, I noticed danger behind our backs." With this and the title track being the last two songs, it brings the album to a decidedly downbeat conclusion, but the whole is no less impressive for it. People Are Strange is certainly peculiar. It is warm, sad, thrilling, it is many things. And it is exceptional."
Strange but Spiritual
Michael M. Kostreva | Clemson, South Carolina | 07/09/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Some people like to take songs apart and re-do them with their own spirit: Like Glenn Gould and Stina Nordenstam. When you hear the tunes Stina produces, your either grit your teeth or scream for more. Give me more! It's more than a jolly prank!"
Michael M. Kostreva | 02/14/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Forget Alanis Morrisette. Forget Courtney Love. Forget Garbage. And yes, forget Celine Dion. Stina Rules. Buy this record. You will hear amazing things."