Silje Nergaard is an award-winning Norwegian jazz-pop singer/songwriter who peaked in popularity after the turn of the century with the chart-topping albums At First Light (2001) and Nightwatch (2003). Born on June 19, 1966, in Steinkjer, Norway, she cites influences that include Al Jarreau and Joni Mitchell. As a teenager she became something of a national sensation when she joined an impromptu jam session at the 1983 Molde Internasjonal Jazz Festival. In 1984 she made her solo recording debut with a 7" single, "One of These Mornings"/"My Funny Valentine," released on PolyGram. Several years later she signed a recording deal with Lifetime Records and made her full-length album debut with Tell Me Where You're Going (1990), the first of three English-language jazz-pop albums produced and co-written by Richard Niles. The highlights of these early albums, the others being Silje (1991) and Cow on the Highway (1995), were later compiled on the best-of collection The Lifetime Years (2005). After parting ways with Lifetime Records, Nergaard released a couple Norwegian-language albums on the label Kirkelig Kulturverksted: Brevet (1995) and Hjemmefra (1996). Upon signing a major-label recording deal with Universal Music, Nergaard broke through to mainstream success in 2000 with Port of Call, a full-length English-language effort comprised largely of cover material. Port of Call was a Top Ten hit on the Norwegian albums chart and set the stage for her chart-topping follow-up albums, At First Light (2001) and Nightwatch (2003). Like Port of Call, these two albums feature a quartet comprised of Tord Gustavsen (piano, Rhodes), Harald Johnsen (acoustic bass), and Jarle Vespestad (drums), in addition to Nergaard (vocals). Almost entirely self-composed, Nightwatch was especially successful, earning Nergaard a Spellemannprisen award for Musician of the Year. In the wake of this success, Be Still My Heart: The Essential (2005), a best-of collection also featuring some new material, was released, along with the aforementioned Lifetime compilation. Subsequent albums Darkness Out of Blue (2007) and A Thousand True Stories (2009), both Top Five hits, feature an expanded band and arrangements by Vince Mendoza. Nergaard moved to Sony for 2010's seasonal album If I Could Wrap Up a Kiss. Unclouded followed in 2012, featuring a cameo from John Scofield. Chain of Days appeared in 2015 For You a Thousand Times in 2017.
© Jason Birchmeier /TiVo
© Jason Birchmeier /TiVo
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Jazz - Released May 1, 2020 | Okeh
The multilingual Norweigan singer-songwriter Silje Nergaard (who first established herself as a jazz singer at the age of 16 after joining an impromptu jam session with Jaco Pastorious) has assembled a "concept album" composed of two sessions with divergent production styles. Part one of this sprawling project — Japanese Blue — is Nergaard revisiting her greatest hits in spare, striking arrangements with just acoustic piano accompaniment from Espen Berg. Sonically, the high-resolution recording here captures a crisp, detailed, natural musicality. Older songs like "Be Still My Heart," and the superb "Based on a Thousand True Stories" clearly benefit from her years of interpretation and live performance. She also adds a wonderful sad tinge to Freddie Mercury's "Love of My Life," and turns in a credible performance of the Louis Armstrong hit, "What a Wonderful World." Hamar Railway Station, the second set, is eight new songs recorded with an electric band where she sings in English (with an assist from longtime lyricist partner Mike McGurk) before repeating it in Norwegian. Recorded in a punchier, synth-led style, in which Andreas Ulvo's minimoog and Fender Rhodes add welcome textures, the full band bounce and layered backing vocals in songs like "Train of Fragile Hearts" and "The Night Traveller" make for bright, 80's soft rock that speak of love and hurt while eschewing much innovation or edginess. Which session represents Nergaard's true calling? Or is she a multi-faceted artist covering bases? The contrasts on Silje Nergaard pose intriguing questions. © Robert Baird/Qobuz