It’s a strange thing when I listen to Siv Jakobsen’s ‘Island’ for the first time and I feel a pang of familiarity. It makes my brain go wriggly and I’m suddenly reminded of when I was 14, which of course makes me feel a bit sick. I scroll through my mental-Rolodex of all the excellent, terrible songs I listened to repeatedly on my little faded green iPod Nano on long car journeys. I soon realize that it’s a memory of Kate Nash’s ‘Don’t You Want to Share the Guilt’ that’s glowing neon pink in the teenage memory sub-section of my brain.
I’m a not-so-closeted Kate Nash fan. Many of her chirpy yet anxiety-ridden songs were the soundtrack to my early teens. I, like many other girls who bit their nails, found something fairly comforting and fun in her obsessively self-flagellating streams of consciousness and expressions of lovesick anguish over the sunny tinkle of the piano. Kids today might say much of her success was due to her being #Relatable.
Right? No? Am I old now?
There are plenty of softer songs in Nash’s early music, but typically many of her most famous hits are bright and noisy, oftentimes ending in a joyous cacophony of keys, drums and her chatty vocals. ‘Don’t You Want to Share the Guilt’ is no exception, starting out gently but ending in a frenzied crescendo. Siv Jakobsen’s ‘Island’ starts similarly, with sweet and simple strums on the guitar and a soft electronic beat to keep it company, but if anything, with every new verse the song becomes more and more calming. It’s nostalgic, wistful and beautiful.
“Yes Hen, but why have you been talking about Kate Nash, I thought she was a wrestler in the 80’s now?” You’re right, she is. In part, I wanted to make a disclaimer: perhaps part of Island’s beautiful, wistful charm for me is how it takes me back to a key time in my life. However, I think Jakobsen has simply mastered the art of creating music that makes you feel like you’re coming home, where the melancholy of remembering days gone by melds with the sweetness of knowing that those memories are yours.
Like Nash, Jakobsen also has a knack for bravely expressing her most anxious and negative thoughts in her lyrics. In ‘Island’ however, Jakobsen calms us with tentatively uplifting melodies, which build to a happy chorus that emanates warmth and a sense of contentment.
‘Island’ is the perfect title for a song that feels like waves of calm washing over you and is reflective of the sense of happy isolation that the song provides. The slightly wistful melody is a little sad yet still, it soothes. It feels like a reminder that solitude isn’t the same as loneliness: with solitude comes a sense of peace and calm. With her pleasantly gentle melodies and electronic flourishes and effects, Jakobsen creates a beautiful world of sound that takes us to our own little island far away.
It’s a timely release for so many who are currently either self-isolating or social distancing due to the Pandemic the world is currently facing. Though being one’s own can be lonely and unpleasant, it can also be a time of reflection and self-acceptance and in some ways, freedom.
Admittedly, freedom certainly isn’t the first thing we feel while on lockdown. So many of us are not only unable to see partners, friends and family but unable to leave our homes more than once a day, if at all. Though these restrictions are stifling, a song like ‘Island’ can remind us taking a step back from the craziness of life can bring us a sense of freedom in our own minds.
Describing the track, Jakobsen has said “At the song’s core sits my need for creative freedom. It’s a sort of reminder to always keep my creativity free and my personal space personal.” Many people are using this period of enforced time alone to work on personal projects, develop creative skills or to simply pause, and think. ‘Island’ encapsulates that sense of peace that comes with doing something just for you.
In 2017, Jakobsen released an LP called ‘The Nordic Mellow’. Hailing from Oslo, Jakobsen has a great ability to create music that reflects the Scandi style of her origins, her voice clear and pure over stripped back and subtly textured sounds. If you enjoyed ‘Island’, have a listen.
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“Island” is exactly what I needed to hear as quarantine is getting unbearable. It combines feelings of anxiety with the encouragement we all need so desperately right now.