Teitur: The Singer

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Teitur: <em>The Singer</em>

Singer/songwriter issues otherworldy songs from his own private island

Despite having been recorded on Gotland, the windswept Swedish island that was the final refuge for famously bleak film director Ingmar Bergman, The Singer is not an album carved solely from existential angst. Teitur Lassen shares with the late auteur a gift for penetrating slice-of-life vignettes and meditative landscapes that only reveal their deeper truths after repeated exposure and time in mind. Following Káta Hornið, his third studio album and first totally performed in the language of his native Faroe Islands, Teitur writes songs with clever turns of phrase and quirky metaphors that wouldn’t likely occur to someone fed on a lifetime of English clichés.

Describing a wounded soul tortured by the static familiarity of living in the same town as his former lover, he notes that they “still drink the same water.” Or take his tribute to friend Chris Whitley, an account of a night the two spent trading songs and stories in Austin, Texas, where the late songwriter rolled cigarettes like he’d “been to war.” Even his bafflement over his own success is presented with disarming directness, as he coos over tinkling marimbas about how breathless fans treat him as if he “were a poet or some legendary mind.”

While he’s certainly a poet, Teitur is foremost a pop craftsman, something that’s occasionally obscured by his favoring of minimalist strings, hushed backing harmonies and pulsating horn sections. His strengths become more obvious on the giddily twee “Catherine the Waitress” and the romantic, softly galloping “The Girl I Don’t Know,” two tracks that build easily accessible bridges from an album that clearly inhabits its own island.

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