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Vinterdvala by Julia Andersson (Review)

These lovely piano-based instrumentals are the perfect soundtrack for settling in and hunkering down during the coldest winter days.
Vinterdvala - Julia Andersson

I discovered Julia Andersson’s music via her solo releases on Moderna Records, and specifically, 2023’s Dröm. Evoking aspects of Linford Detweiler, Goldmund, Jóhann Jóhannsson, and Otto Totland, the Finnish composer’s music is the very model of elegant, melancholy restraint — the perfect sort of music for quiet, contemplative afternoons.

Her self-released Vinterdvala is cut from the same musical cloth, with opener “Försvinner” characterized by the same gracefully evocative piano playing. Recorded up close and personal, you can hear the hushed inner workings of Andersson’s piano in-between the exquisite notes, creating an intimate stillness. Andersson is then joined by strings and percussion on other songs, like “Vemod” and the title track. Used tastefully and sparingly, this additional instrumentation only enhances the songs’ emotional heft and contemplative nature.

All of which befits an album whose title translates as “hibernation” or “a state of winter dormancy.” Two weeks ago, Lincoln was literally blanketed in snow, shutting down the city’s schools, businesses, and roads. My family found ourselves housebound for several days, all but cut off from the outside world.

Vinterdvala is precisely for days like that, days when you find yourself filled with an existential need to burrow under thick blankets or settle down in a comfortable chair with a warm drink and a good book. Or even just to gaze out the window and lose yourself in the swirling snow. That these five songs clock in at just under a fleeting twenty minutes serves only to make this effect all the more poignant and pronounced.

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