If Grief Could Wait

If Grief Could Wait doesn't make all that much sense on paper. A Scandinavian singer with more than a toe in pop music circles is joined by a baroque harpist, a viola da gamba, and a nyckelharpa (a Swedish folk instrument much like a fiddle crossed with a hurdy gurdy) for a mixed program of 17th century music by the English composer Henry Purcell, songs by Nick Drake and Leonard Cohen, and a duo of original tunes that might have fit snugly on a Judy Collins album from, say, 1968. 


But Susanna Wallumrød's debut album for ECM does come together somehow, packing a strangely powerful punch for such a deliberately muted affair. The glue lies in Wallumrød's lovely voice, itself not terribly distinctive or outwardly emotive, yet nonetheless gripping in its odd, affecting blend of ethereality and straightforward expressiveness.


 Wallumrød approaches seven Purcell pieces (drawn from both church and theatrical sources, and including the now familiar "Music For a While," "O Solitude," and "If Grief Has Any Pow'r To Kill") with personal interpretations that bypass classical purity and period authenticity while hewing to an appropriate restraint that incrementally heightens the power of each piece. These haunting laments of spiritual and romantic longing come off as simpatico brethren to the observations and quandaries posed by Cohen's "Who By Fire" and "You Know Who I Am," Drake's "Which Will," and Wallumrød's self-penned, "Hangout" and "The Forrester." And in her three unlikely and gifted instrumental cohorts, and visionary producer (ECM mastermind Manfred Eicher) Wallumrød can consider herself a very lucky woman.

April 24: "[The HST] lifted a curtain from our view of the universe, changing it so profoundly that no human can look at the stars in the same way..."

Kenneth Calhoun (Black Moon) and Lysley Tenorio (Monstress) of the Discover Great New Writers program on B-movies, heritage, and finales.

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
In the Light of What We Know

Zia Haider Rahman's mystery of a brilliant Bangladeshi mathematician's past barrels through the Ivy League, London high finance, and spy-haunted Afghanistan in a page-turning tale of exile, intrigue and the price of friendship. A Discover Great New Writers selection.

The People's Platform

Once touted as the foundation for tomorrow's digital democracy, the Internet is increasingly ruled by a few corporate giants, while millions of contributors till its fields for free. Astra Taylor looks at why the web has failed to deliver a communitarian cyberscape, and offers a compelling case for restoring its original vision.

A Private Venus

Dubbed "the Italian Simenon," Giorgio Scerbanenco (1911-1969) began his crime-writing career with books set in the USA, but quickly shifted scene closer to home, the city of Milan.  In this adventure, appearing in English for the first time, his underdog hero Dr. Duca Lamberti finds himself in the middle of a seedy, scantily clad criminal racket, where the presence of an outsider could result in death.