WHEN I WAS A SOLDIER REVIEW IN GAFFA / DANISH MUSIC MAGAZINE
Dramatic, poignant and grim storytelling, conveyed with impressive authority
“.. The style and the story on album number two is associated with those she launched with album number one. But where The Book of the Mermaid was referring to Hans Andersen’s The Little Mermaid, When I Was a Soldier answers the question: What if the Mermaid had continued her life as a human being? Rübner-Petersen’s response is extreme and cruel. The 11 songs on the mermaid’s fate are elements in Rübner-Petersen larger tale of the mermaid and human. And the story is dramatic, poignant and cruel. Some passages reminiscent of songs by Marianne Faithful and Tom Waits but nevertheless, – all the songs appear utterly original.”
The Book of the Mermaid
Reviewed by Morten Wamsler – 19/03/2009 | Character: 9 / 10
Impressive and expressive.
The artist Pernille Rübner-Petersen releases her album The Book of the Mermaid at a time where there are few, seriously strong and competent female personalities on the Danish music scene. Sanne (Salomonsen), Anne (Linnet) and Hanne (Boel) can pull aside and start bowing in the dust, because with this album Pernille Rübner-Petersen steps onto the music scene with an authority that one must look abroad to find elsewhere.
Musically the album varies so much that it’s hard to put a label on. From the dramatic cello-supported “I’m Gonna Love You” over the intimate and powerful “hunger” to the Portishead-like song “The Moment I Almost Touched You”, the guitar rocking “Ruin It With Grace” and the folkloric “Kiss Me “.
There is strong femininity here. It’s about desire, eroticism and emotion that are more than just fantasies. It is angry and eloquent, put into perspective and caring. It is fascinating and repulsive, it is gripping and compelling, and it is beauty and wildness.
Vocally – similar to Beth Gibbons and Madonna – although with the former as clearly the strongest reference. The unique combination of extreme strength and extreme fragility is very rarely heard, and makes this album an unusual experience.
Finally, Bjarke Slot must be credited for his work of production, as he himself – along with the band Spektakel – stands for instrument handling on the album, which will dazzle the listener. Its entirety is pompous, grandiose, theatrical – but still extremely close up and so intimate and direct that the listener at times feels shy and embarrassed.
The Book of the Mermaid is an impressive work that shows the kind of essential difference there is when an artist really wants something with her music. Where there is meaning and significance behind each note. And that is the case with Pernille Rübner-Petersen, who hardly will appeal to large groups of the Danish population. But those who get hit will get hit in earnest.
GAFFA | The Book of the Mermaid
CD, released d. 25-03-2009, Gateway Music | Reviewed by Ivan Rod | 4 stars in GAFFA ****
Tremendous, fascinating and disturbing debut of a Danish Sinéad O’Connor
What the hell is this? Here you are sitting with a CD of an unknown Danish woman. And out of the speakers is coming a sound that spontaneously sends your thoughts in the direction of such established, international singers as Laurie Anderson and Sinéad O’Connor! Can it really be true? Yes … apparently it can. Well, the producer turned up the volume, bass and reverb on The Book of Mermaid. But there is still an unmistakable storyteller in Pernille Rübner-Petersen. A narrator who can not only write but also compose and sing to make you shiver with delight – just as Laurie Anderson and Sinead O’Connor can! Hear a song like The Moment I Almost Touched You and you’ll understand what I mean – both in terms of Pernille Rübner-Petersen’s distinctive artistic quality and the international associations, her material and vocals launch. That song is like a suite, textually and musically of an astounding character, complex and yet easily accessible. Together with the other songs, The Book of the Mermaid is nothing less than an impressive and deeply disturbing debut.