mom’s on the island,
dad’s up north, going insane.
how do you find a home
when your home won’t leave you alone?
I have some faith in memories;
don’t you know that you were one.
you won’t believe me
when I say I came out of this right.
I took off my face; I could be great;
I watch the dogs; I sit and wait.
(Lyrics of Face Off from Lina Tullgren’s album Won)
Untranslatable feelings expressed within music give us all a richer and more nuanced understanding of ourselves and the other. Music offers a very different way of seeing, or rather feeling, the world through somebody else’s perspective. When Lina Tullgren sings about the pains of growing up, about coming to terms with life and the struggle of finding home and being at peace with oneself in the standout song Face Off on her new record Won, the words are all very relatable. Yet we only fully live through the powerful wash of different feelings and sensations that spill over us when submerging within the poignant shadings and tinges of her music.
Face Off from Lina Tullgren’s debut album Won
Tullgren’s trademark style is a nebulous, dense lyricism that burns with words of liquid fire. Her music comes to you subdued and muffled, though spacious and warmly analog, as if you were lying in a capacious flowstone cave with cotton in your ears. In Face Off you hear ponderous, labored thuds played by heavy drums that drag us through Tullgren’s life and the song; the chord changes of the electric guitar move slowly in soft one-bar waves creating a static feeling of motionlessness; cymbals gently swell up filling the musical space; and a haggard, bony riff adds stains of slight discord at moments. The sparse texture, naturally, comes by design, as it gives the contemplative lyrics time to breathe and unfurl their full effect. Intimate and touchingly wonderful.
Lina Tullgren performs Red Dawn from her album Won live at Mount Misery in Barrington, New Hampshire
What ultimately makes this record so memorable is that it sounds like highly personal diary entries. It is an album rife with moments of intense introspection as Tullgren thinks out loud in a hushed voice that possesses a quality of commanding edginess and ethereal vulnerability. She can at times sound so fragilely hopeful, sometimes diffidently confident and at others heart-wrenchingly forlorn.
At all times however there is personality and character, whether Tullgren sits in a room and can’t take her eyes off the person who she just met, love-struck in Perfect; or whether she is painfully processing change and sorting through all the thoughts in her mind in Slow; or whether she is visiting past selves in Fate – the 23-year old from Southern Main (United States) allows us secret glimpses into the innermost sanctum of a person who has something interesting to share with the world.
Big-time emotionality, restrained and largely unadorned. An inward journey of quivering grace!
- Face Off
- Red Dawn
- Fitchburg State
- Get Lost
- Summer Sleeper
- Static Burn
- Vocals, Guitar – Lina Tullgren
- Guitar, Bass, Organ, Piano – Ty Ueda
- Drums – Travis Hagan
- Organ, Wurlitzer – John Andrews
- Flute – Rachel Neveu