Silje Nergaard – Unclouded (2012)

FrontCover1In 2009, orchestral A Thousand True Stories, the year after it was time for the Christmas album If I Could Wrap Up A Kiss. In 2012, follow up with Silje Nergaard Unclouded, an album based on the concept trio consisting of herself and the two guitarists Hallgrim Bratberg and Havar Bendiksen. Silje has also been joined by musicians – especially guitarists – which has meant a lot to her throughout her career. ¤  With the album include the Knut Reiersud, Jojje Wadenius, Nils Einar Vinjor and renowned jazz guitarist John Scofield. Trumpeter Nils Petter Molvaer also contributes, and Silje singing a duet with Kim SiljeNergaardRysstad the song “Norwegian Boat Song. ”Unclouded focuses on the interplay between the vocals and guitar, inspired by Nergaards childhood with a guitar-playing father. The sound is stripped down significantly, and the muted instrumentation lets the melodies shine extra strong — as well as variation in the expression gives the album life, with a range that goes from the soft, beautiful to the rougher and more playful. (

In the spring of 2012, Siljereleased her 13th album, Unclouded, whichincludes nine original songs composed by the songwriter plus special contributions by American guitarist John Scofield, blues guitarist Knut Reiersrud and jazz trumpeter Nils Petter Molvær. The album’s title refers to the carefree attitude of children and their spontaneity, a quality Silje had been longing for and one that she has successfully recreated with these new songs. Accompanied by only two guitarists, the singer masterfully uses all the nuances of her voice to interpret songs that are true poetry. Although Unclouded marks a shift from her previous albums, Silje remains true to herself, redefining her relationship with jazz in each new song she sings. (

Halgrim Bratberg (guitar, bass)
Haar Bendiksen (guitar, bass)
Silje Nergaard (vocals and compositions
Frida Annevik (vocals)
Peter Hallström (background vocals)
Jon Pal Inderberg (saxophone)
Nils Petter Molvaer (trumpet)
Knut Reiersrud (guitar)
Kim André Rysstad (vocals)
John Scofield (guitar)
Pal Svenre (background vocals)
Nils Einar Vinjor (guitar)
Jojje Wadenius (guitar)
Martin Winstad (percussion)


01. All I Had 5.08
02. Norwegian Boatsong 6.22
03. God’s Mistakes 4.13
04. The Moon’s A Harsh Mistress 5.11
05. Ordinary Sadness 5.00
06. When The Morning Comes 3.52
07. Det Var For Sent 4.35
08. When Our Tune Is Played 3.28
09. He Must Have Been Telling A Lie 3.11
10. I Will Write You Every Da 3.43
11.Human 4.48

All songs written by Silje Nergaard + Mike McGurk



Silje Nergaard – At First Light (2001)

FrontCover1At First Light is the second-best-selling jazz album of all time in Silje Nergaard’s native Norway. With this (her seventh CD), she’s already made it big in the rest of Northern Europe, and in the proud words of the Norwegian Embassy – now she wants to conquer Britain.

Silje’s voice is as childlike as Lisa Ekdahl’s, and as if that wasn’t enough she has a baby on backing vocals! Her songwriting, though, is mature. She can write an expansive melody that’s well structured but isn’t straitjacketed by chorus and verse.

“Be Still My Heart” comes from the Sting school of navel-gazing, with its falling cadences, rich bass, and Till Bronner’s haunting, Chris Botti-esque trumpet. This, and the quietly beautiful “There’s Always a First Time”, both start with simple melody and instrumentation and grow in complexity. Silje’s polished-silver vocals mix with sax and strings to form a precious but strong amalgam, while Magnus Lindgren’s sax solo unravels the melody and plays with the loose ends.

BackCover02AAlthough Silje writes her music at a distance from lyricist Mike McGurk, the produce of their relationship sounds organic as if words and music developed together. In fact, Silje sees the nature of Scandinavian jazz in the need to try to let the melody breathe and it’s this sense of space that her voice demands if it’s to be at its most individual and expressive.

Only two of the twelve tracks on At First Light threaten to invade Silje’s personal space and expose the limitations of a Bo Peep voice. In “Now and Then” the claustrophobic instrumentation leaves few openings for her voice to shine through, while the funky “Keep On Backing Losers” tends to overwhelm her with its heavy rhythm.

When given freedom, though, Silje can do justice to a whole range of material. A touch of Stevie Wonder filters through in her light vibrato and in her voice’s natural abandonment, particularly on Stevie Wonder’s own “Blame It On the Sun”. In contrast, her quick-gliding vocals join Tord Gustavsen’s bluesy piano in”There’s Trouble Brewing”, a powerful and swinginguptempo waltz.

Silje’s favourite song on At First Light, “Japanese Blue”, is airy and free-flowing, with the unsettling sound of a trumpet masquerading as a shakuhachi. No such instrumental illusions are used in the last track, “Lullaby to Erle”, though. Recorded in Siljes house, it’s folky and fairytale, reminiscent of Hushabye Mountain, and it’s whispered right in your ear. Backed by Baby Erle on chimes and gurgles, and by Nils Einar Vijor on acoustic guitar, Silje’s voice is all nostalgia and bliss. This one will have you pining for the fjords!, (Kathryn Shackleton)

Staffan Becker (bass)
Tord Gustavsen (piano)
Harald Johnsen (bass)
Magnus Lindgren (saxophone)
Silje Nergaard (vocals, piano on 12.)
Jarle Vespestad (drums)
Georg Wadenius (guitar, percussion)
Jan Allan (trumpet on 06.)
Peter Asplund (trumpet on 07.+ 09.)
Till Brönner (trumpet on 02.)
Arve Henriksen (trumpet on 11,)
Erle Totland Nergaard (percussion, background vocals on 12.)
Thomas Strønen (drums on 08. + 09.)
Nils Einar Vinjor  (guitar on 12.)
Kati Raitinen – Åsa Forsberg-Lindgren
Bo Söderström – Elisabeth Arnberg – Mikael Sjögren
Annette Mannheimer – Christian Bergqvist – Monika Stenikouska – Per Hammarström, Svein H. Martinsen – Tony Bauer – Torbjörn Bernhardsson – Ulf Forsberg

01. There’s Always A First Time (Nergaard/McGurk) 4.02
02. Be Still My Heart (Nergaard/McGurk) 4.59
03. Let There Be Love (Neegaard/Gustavson/McGurk) 3.16
04. So Sorry For Your Love (Nergaard/McGurk) 4.10
05. Now And Then (Nergaard/McGurk) 4.11
06. Two Sleepy People (Nergaard/McGurk) 3.43
07. Keep On Backing Losers (Neegaard/Gustavson/McGurk) 3.43
08. Blame It On The Sun (Nergaard/McGurk) 3.16
09. At First Light (Nergaard/McGurk) 3.54
10. There’s Trouble Brewing (Neegaard/Gustavson/McGurk) 3.31
11. Japanese Blue (Nergaard/McGurk)  4.21
12. Lullaby To Erle (Nergaard/Vinjor/McGurk) 3.37