Seen/Heard/Read

Lost Girls by Lindsey Stirling

Lost Girls is the first track on Lindsey Stirling’s latest album Brave Enough. It opens with tentative, probing notes that make one think of slow drops of melting ice or ripples on the surface of a quiet lake. And then, like most of the tracks on the album, it surprises you with the change of pace as you become absorbed in the story Lindsey is telling.

The story is of coming back from fear and loss. But not just that. Lindsey explains it herself in more detail, saying that the focus of the song and the video’s visualization is on what happens after recovery, the courage it takes to stay on the hard-won path. Lost Girls brilliantly picks up where Shatter Me from Lindsey’s sophmore album Beyond the Veil left off. It’s thrilling to see that the story can be further pursued, and thankfully in this case the sequel concept works flawlessly, building up on the solid base of the prequel and at the same time yet again drawing the viewer in to an immersive new world – trademark Stirling.

Fans will recognize some of the dancers from her recent tours, though they are transformed so convincingly thanks to costumes and make-up, that the creatures they are playing seem almost real, as well as terrifying. At the center of it all is, of course, Lindsey’s wide-eyed, but no longer helpless ballerina, lost and found again.

 

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Seen/Heard/Read

The Arena by Lindsey Stirling

The inspirational, home-hitting and ever relevant quote from Theodore Roosevelt about facing life and what courage really is opens Lindsey Stirling’s latest music video, The Arena. And Lindsey would know, through personal experience, and in thinking this I immediately go back in my mind to her autobiography The Only Pirate at the Party. Many will shout, only a few will do – an ongoing theme in her music.

Visually grittier than most of Lindsey’s previous music videos, The Arena shows a story set in a seemingly fantastic space, but immediately painfully realistic in the scenes it depicts. People are thrown in to the fray of life for whatever reason, and even without actual lions waiting to pounce, the frowning crowd watching emanates a threatening sense that this could get ugly, as Lindsey and her partner, played by Derek Hough, move towards the center of this arena.

Is it a dying circus? A gang? Steam punk meets tribal meets Western meets dystopia? As always in Lindsey’s videos, the myriad of genres, ideas, associations and styles blends together to create something unique and memorable. Stepping next to a partner (relatively new for Lindsey) who looks like one of the fastest ballroom dancers in the world, her petite form is more obvious, but her posture is both graceful and determinedly strong at the same time.

It’s like Roundtable Rival flipped over, a mirror version, but in a world grey and desolate. Something needs to be reclaimed here. Love? Self-respect? Bravery? Happiness?

The sharpness of Lindsey’s violin cuts through my hearing, matching the dizzying speed of the dance movements. Once again both take mybreath away.

Anyone can become a target and be forced in to the arena, and it seems the message in the video is that a battle, whether big or small, is never far away, but whether fighting or not, it’s about not stopping being yourself. And, importantly so, to look around and realize that you don’t always have to do it alone, as you might have thought.

Welcome to The Arena.

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Seen/Heard/Read

Imagine Dragons. Blank Space

A friend recently reminded me about this and it took me right back. Imagine Dragons played in Hamburg in October 2015, and while I was suffering from acute post-concert nostalgia a few weeks later, I stumbled upon this gem on YouTube. Do Imagine Dragons and Taylor Swift work? Yes, they do.

The band covers her hit single Blank Space in the BBC Radio1 Live Lounge and the result is basically enchanting. And kind of adorable.

It’s interesting to hear a song attached so firmly to one distinctive voice and style executed by other musicians, especially if it’s men singing what was originally performed by a woman and the other way around.

The band is visibly comfortable playing anywhere, being just as at home in a smaller, more intimate setting as in an arena teeming with thousands of fans. Clearly well-prepared as always and obviously enjoying their instruments and vocal contributions, their cover starts out in a pretty relaxed, but still playful, tempo that made me think of summer, looking back on what was and what was to come.

The seamless transition to Stand by Me surprised me initially, as I hadn’t known it was coming, but it is integrated perfectly in to the song and blends well with the story. “So, darling, darling, stand by me” sounds just a bit more rock as Dan Reynold’s voice gets louder and more gravelly, then calms down again. Imagine Dragons handles this cover with delicate precision, Wayne Sermon submerged in playing his guitar like only he can be, Ben McKee hitting all the right bass notes, Daniel Platzman giving it his all on the drums even if they are quieter and Dan Reynolds draping the lyrics “‘Cause we’re young and we’re reckless” with a new wistful energy. And they all sing.

At least after this everyone should know the oft-discussed lyric is definitely “Got a long list of ex-lovers”.

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Seen/Heard/Read

Lindsey Stirling. Night Vision

Lindsey Stirling has released a new music video! Oh joy! Repeated viewing and sharing of opinions required. What’s different in this video is that she integrates a promo for her upcoming 2016 summer tour (in the U.S. and Canada, plus one stop in Berlin at Lollapalooza this September, according to her official website). Go, Lindsey!

Considering how busy she is and how much mind-blowing output she regularly generates, the additional promise of a new album leaves me tingling with anticipation and admiration as well. Both of her previous albums still feel fresh and energetic, and listening to them on repeat is something my week cannot do without.

But back to Night Vision. This is one of my favourite tracks, because the way the music sounds and the way the various violin tones come together, especially the lower ones, make images of nighttime landscapes pop up in my mind, and fluorescent lights were in there as well. So it’s exciting to see Lindsey incorporate just that in to her music video. Not to mention the nods to superwoman themes, the action genre, and clearly Mission Impossible. Lindsey becomes her own super-violinist, dancing and playing her way through a laser maze in a black leather suit to let fans know about her news.

Strong, graceful, spunky, sharp of step and quick of bow – in short, Lindsey Stirling.

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Seen/Heard/Read

Dying for You by Otto Knows (feat. Lindsey Stirling and Alex Aris)

Somebody told me you had given up on your smile

Plenty of very satisfying reviews have been written about this fantastic track, and after listening to it on repeat for a week, I thought I’d contribute my own review of the music video. In my humble, non music critic style.

The excitement I feel every time a new musical release involving Lindsey Stirling comes out is addictive. This video delivers and once again shows that she is a performer to be reckoned with. The fact that she is an instrumental artist, as well as her masterful grasp of numerous genres and unique interpretation with her violin music make it possible to integrate her playing in practically any collaboration. At the same time, she not only showcases herself, but compliments the artists she works with on a given project, bringing out the best in all those involved. Different talent coming together requires good choosing, and happily it looks like “Dying for You” is a result of just that.

A pianist plays inside what looks like a roomy, abandoned church or cathedral, while Alex Aris begins to sing the story, not with hopelessness, but with mounting force. To me you don’t have to keep hiding away who you are/ Remember how we said together we would go far. It could be a love story, it could be about friendship – the lyrics seem comfortingly suitable to multiple interpretations.

When all you have is doubt, know that I’m around/ I will be dying for you, dying for you.

And then Lindsey appears, gathering power with her violin. In those scenes where we don’t see her, we hear her, always, as soon as she starts playing. It’s like straining for something familiar that’s reaching your ears from a distance, and then bam, recognition, this is it! She plays, and oh boy, it’s an explosive, terrifically executed speedy violin frenzy.

The color and light scheme of the music video play up the expected associations with “dying” in the track title – black, grey, beige, brown, switching between what might be a cloudy day outside to darkness, in which Lindsey’s auburn braids dance like flames around her pale, chiselled face while she does her signature twirling.

The theme of an impending mini-apocalypse surrounds the visual aesthetic of the video, but rather than drag the viewer down, it adds a note of raw reality, as well as making you think of destruction clearing the way for creation, like a forest being naturally reborn after a fire.

I will be dying to hear this one again for a long time.

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