Anyone who caught Teitur Lassen’s UK dates supporting his 2009 album The Singer, would be hard pressed to recognise the man on stage tonight.
The highly praised album showed the Faroe Islander at his kookiest, with quirky arrangements, busy scripts and an almost self-conscious and – dare we say it – contrived level of oddness. Tonight’s low-key show, to a half-full Bush Hall, acts as the launch gig for his fourth album, Let The Dog Drive Home.
For an artist who’s toiled so hard it’s a strange diversion. His first two album received little fanfare on our shores. The third was a relative break through; with its more confident, bolshie approach it married the voice that endeared him to the likes of Rufus Wainwright and Seal with choruses that would prick up the ears of the more casual listener, and it seemed like he’d finally hit the nail on the head.
So there’s a certain level of expectation surrounding tonight and his latest record. Released this very morning, Let The Dog Drive Home sees Teitur look back to the stylings of his earlier work.
His voice is shaky to begin with, and during the likes of the gorgeously naive All I Remember From Last Night Is You and God I Have So Many Things To Tell You, the inflections and whisperings that have become his trademark are worryingly absent and the crowd may have been wondering if this was another part of his reinvention. But he soon warms up, and fellow new album tracks Freight Train and Betty Hedges receive a warm, relieved, reaction.
He throws in some timely old tracks, most notably Josephine and I Was Just Thinking (“I’ve got to play this or I get a yellow card,” he only half-jokes.)
Speaking of his six years living in London, he ponders on how the English seem to love misery; “It’s like perfect is not quite right…I like it,” he muses. For a songwriter whose current output is so utterly black and white, it seems a strange thing to say. There’s no room for suggestion in his latest release; a love album that explores the emotion from its very beginning to end, it’s his most honest, lyrical – and perhaps simplest – work to date.
A brilliantly dirty, noisy version of the album’s title track sees Teitur and his three-piece band throw some alt-rock shapes before a solo version of Waverly Place, which contains one of his most endearingly accented couplets (“Last time we met you were in love with New York City, Last time we met I was poor and you were pretty”).
His encore is comprised of fan favourite Louis Louis and The Singer. A wonderful finale, he pumps his heart and soul into the grand piano in front of the stage as he spills out his final, confessional lyrics: “I sing to be loved.”
The crowd might not know have known the majority of the songs unveiled tonight, but they were happy to hang on his every word, and if they were disappointed at the change in direction, or were longing for The Singer Part II, they didn’t show it.