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Music Review: Anna Ternheim – Leaving On A Mayday

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When I saw Anna Ternheim perform at a concert in San Francisco last year, I knew she had to be something special since she was opening for both fellow Swedes El Perro Del Mar and Lykke Li. However, she unfortunately didn’t wow me.

With two albums — (2004’s Somebody Outside and 2006’s Separation Road) — already under her belt, Anna Ternheim‘s third full-length album Leaving On A Mayday (2008) has finally seen the light of day in the United States after ruling the music charts in her native Sweden.

Anna TernheimI’ve been trying to remember specifically what turned me off to her so many months ago, but as of right now it’s futile and pointless. Mayday is stunning in its breadth, balancing the immediacy of today with the sadness of a candlelight’s last moments.

The opening “What Have I Done” perfectly encapsulates this poise. As passionate as the lover may be, the idea of finality is the hardest thing to overcome no matter how lost everything may seem, with the words “I hope you feel the way I do / I hope you give yourself up to” still sounding so distant as though told through a final love letter.

Love is an obvious theme. But is it lost love? While some songs are gloomy (“No, I Don’t Remember”), something eternal never seems to vanish. The melancholy of “Terrified” can at times be overwhelming, but the chorus offers hope of something lasting (“You see me / Like no one / Saw me before”). It’s laid more clearly in “My Heart Still Beats For You.”

It isn’t until the rather uplifting “Make It On My Own” that you truly get the magnitude of love’s power in its pure, bare form. Ternheim sums it up perfectly: “The last album was like a black, shiny, heavy stone. Leaving On A Mayday is a bit like a dirty white feather” (press release).

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