Carvings: Vinyl LPBR016LP
Label: Basin Rock
Release Date: 3rd February
Juni Habel's 'Carvings' arrives like it's been a cult record collector folk classic since the 60s, a charming lofi but characterful gem, that's intimate and warm, a real headphones sat on your bed and taking it in record.
For those who dig: Nick Drake, Karen Dalton, Jessica Pratt, Julie Byrne, Shannon Lay, Nadia Reid...
Crackled radio-like transmissions from Norway's rural hinterland. Juni Habel's fragile finger-picked lullabies warm themselves by the open fire with her rich intimate voice atop twinkling arrangements and strange percussive instrumentation. Like glowing embers in the dark, these songs are odes to life and death, the beauty of belonging and human kinship with nature.
Push open the door of the old school house in the remote flatlands of Southern Norway that Juni Habel shares with her close-knit family and climb the stairs; you’ll find yourself in a former classroom – the home of her new album Carvings. A songbook of life’s lessons offering an expansive perspective as it navigates personal shadows between darkness and light.
“I knew I wanted to write from a larger perspective. I wanted to write about the course of nature, and the people in it - life and death, beauty and tragedy.” Juni says, “loss - the search for the dead - grasping to find the words, and liberation of giving that up. I also wanted to explore my own kinship with nature - a sense of belonging, and notice what is around with gratitude and zest for life.”
This unyielding spirit of family and nature is etched into Carvings’ unschooled approach. With beauty in mock-simplicity and radiating humanity like the music of Tia Blake, Julie Byrne or Myriam Gendron, Juni’s songwriting unfolds on her own terms, and is the sound of facing whatever mother nature decides will find its way to the top of the list.
Recorded between the classroom (‘big hall’), the hallway on the 2nd floor, and her bedroom with simple gear and vocals laid down in a single take. Co-producer, musician and singer Stian Skaaden, became her melodic confidant and experimental co-conspirator halving the burden by building the album’s layers through blowing a pipe, playing bow on the banjo, bottles or glockenspiel. “With this album I wanted to lean deeper into the process. The title Carvings illustrates thoroughness. It was a vulnerable project, to strive for creating something truly beautiful, to pour my soul into it,” she says.
Uninhibited by the possibility of ‘mistakes’ and jamming until she struck gold, Juni confidently discovered the truest expression of herself. “It takes courage to do things ‘wrong’ with uncertainty, record lyrics which are strange but feel right, on crappy mics, it can be good to fumble a bit,” Juni says before tellingly, “the joy of playing is quite fragile. I have to protect it. You can't use your head, you have to be inside the song.”