On the 2009 compilation All My Mistakes, Teitur Lassen took listeners back to the very beginning. Its 14 tracks represented his four albums, from 2003′s Poetry And Aeroplanes, through to 2008′s landmark record The Singer, and the distinctions between the records were clear.
His distinctive voice was there from the start but over those five years something else clicked; the songs went from being simple singer-songwriter numbers with occasional flickers of something interesting to fully blown pop gems, with tracks like Boy She Can Sing from 2004′s Stay Under The Stars and The Singer’s Catherine The Waitress showing another side to the warm, crackling voice that endeared him to the likes of Rufus Wainwright, Seal and Aimee Mann.
So Let The Dog Drive Home comes as something of a surprise; despite its title and cartoon artwork, it dismisses the pop choruses and big arrangements that impressed on The Singer in favour of a totally stripped back sound more akin to his earlier work. An incurable romantic, Teitur explores stages of love with an excitement and naivety that’s heart-wrenchingly honest and without the cool cynicism his peers might inject.
From opening track Feel Good, a simple, tender song about nervous lust (“I don’t know you very well, I’d be the first to admit… All you do is make me feel good in a way I’ve never felt before, Now I can’t stop thinking of you and I have a funny feeling that you feel the same way too”), to closing song All I Remember From Last Night Is You, a light hearted morning after song (“What was I thinking, What did I do, Did I do something stupid… I feel dirty with guilt, Did I smoke your cigarettes, Did I kiss you good night?”), Let The Dog Drive Home feels like a diary of Teitur’s first loves. He shares the ups and downs with a freshness and honesty that his 34 years have yet to quash.
This is accentuated by his knack of hitting his listeners’ collective nerve. There’s something to relate to in every song, and with the clutter and layers of instrumentation gone, his carefully crafted words are thrust to the fore. Simple, fluttering strings create a Paul Simon type arrangement, and his Faroese accent provides quirks where needed.
It’s a change that works, and the most ambitious sounding song, Stormy Weather, is surprisingly the most forgettable, with simple ditties like Freight Train and Fly On The Wall leaving a greater impression.
Very Careless People is a highlight. His opening gambit “She’s got the right to mess up her own life, Who am I to inspire or deny her?” kicks off a gorgeous mid-tempo waltzing backing.
Let The Dog Drive Home is a warm album that feels cosy and familiar from the first listen. Those who might be put off by the apparent step back need not worry. It sits alongside The Singer with confidence and is Teitur’s most complete album to date. In fact, the man himself answers his critics on Betty Hedges: “Big questions need small answers, Like yes or no.” Understated, and close to perfection.