Theresa Andersson : Street Parade

Written by Tom Speed

June 27, 2012

For her sixth album release, Swedish-born, New Orleanian songstress Theresa Andersson invokes the bacchanalian excess of Mardi Gras with the album’s title, Street Parade. But the contents therein present a far more complex range of emotions and soundscapes than is typified by the annual full-throttle catharsis. It’s as much about the aftermath of the parade, the clean-up and the reflection. It contemplates the party and the penance.

And here we see a fully realized use of the studio as a sonic palate; Andersson utilizes an aural collage that weaves elements of chamber pop, New Orleans street rhythms and angular electronica to capture moods both contemplative and somber, while still managing to insert some hip-shaking vitality into the mix.

It’s been more than four years since her last release, 2008’s watershed Hummingbird Go!. In that time, she’s given birth to a daughter, and motherhood has clearly put her in a more pensive mood.

Her enchanting voice is upfront throughout Street Parade, layering the lush chorus of “January” into a churning  swirl of sound. The swaying “Fiya’s Gone” is an upbeat and infectious groove that likewise shows off her vocal chops. Elsewhere, second line rhythms and brassy eruptions decorate “What Comes Next.”

But the most alluring cuts are more ethereal. “Sleepsong for Saoirse” is an enchanting hymn, an otherworldly revelation of a lullaby. The haunting trance of the instrumental “Ruby” is a dreamy respite. And on the more feisty “Injuns” she conjures a visit to the spirit world by intoning: “Take my hand in yours, I know all the secret passages, follow me, we will find freedom in another world.”

It is heady stuff for a woman previously best known for her live shows—sporting little but body paint at Jazz Fest and utilizing loops and samples to create a one-woman band on popular You Tube videos.

Life changes naturally impact artistic expression, and if becoming a parent is a life altering experience it’s bound to affect one’s art in ways that contemplate life, death and the beyond. For Andersson, that’s something to celebrate.

Street Parade is out now on Basin Street Records.