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Push open the door of the old Norwegian school house in the rural hinterland Juni Habel shares with her close-knit family and climb the stairs and one will find oneslef in a former classroom—the home of her new album Carvings. Crafted seventeen years after guitar tuition would try to iron out the creases of her bohemian upbringing, it is a songbook of life’s lessons offering an expansive perspective as it navigates personal shadows between darkness and light.
Just as her more featherweight debut album All Ears would attest, the timelessness of Habel’s music has evolved from her lived experiences. Growing up with six younger siblings alongside horses, hens, sheep and pigs on the family farm, she was a Forest School child. Today, little—and a lot—has changed since eschewing the city in favor of koselig-cohabiting with husband Emil, friend Isis, cat Lisa, dog Sajo. Living alongside them is Grandmother Inger, who gave Habel her first guitar aged ten and has always been a big influence on her 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, Habel’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 second floor, and her bedroom with simple gear and vocals laid down in a single take, Habel extended an invitation to her musical family; husband Emil Nøjgaard Petersen (electric guitar), Sofie Mortvedt, Ellen-Martine Gismervik and Håkon Brunborg (strings) Thea Hernæs (drums) and uncle Sverre Thorstensen (double bass). 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.
As Habel traces family, loss and grief, nature, love and music, be sure to remove one’s shoes at the door; within each of Carvings’ deepest cuts the warmest welcome awaits.
“Meet Norway’s new pastoral folk voice—guitar lines ripple like Nick Drake strumming for Karen Dalton—think Sibylle Baier or Julie Byrne.” —Uncut