Sunday, June 5, 2011

Claudia Nygaard - Let The Storm Roll In


Claudia Nygaard - Let The Storm Roll In
2011, Bet The Ranch Records

Claudia Nygaard has been kicking around the music business for a long time.  A staff songwriter at Greenwood Music in Nashville, Nygaard has an impressive catalog of original songs that's she's performed at fairs all over the US.  Nygaard has also achieved a modicum of success in Europe.  Her shows on both sides of the pond are well-attended, and Nygaard has quietly built up a steady following that would be the envy of most working Indie musicians.  Nygaard releases her U.S. debut album, Let The Storm Roll In, on June 21, 2011.  Self-produced, with hand-selected songs from her vast catalog, Nygaard may have quite accidentally created and released one of the finest singer/songwriter/storyteller collections in recent memory.

Let The Storm Roll In opens with "Big Country", an ode to the immigrant spirit that built America into the country it is.  Celtic flute decorates the arrangement with both melodic and symbolic embellishment, but Nygaard's lyrics and distinct harmonic backdrop speak of the universality of experience of all those who have lent their talents and labors to the birth and continued growth of the nation.  "Miss Kitty" is an amusing number inspired by the stagnant romance of Miss Kitty and Matt Dillon on the old Gunsmoke television show.  It's a fitting tribute to the show, laced with humor and dancing, barroom feel that like plays well on stage.  Nygaard explores a childhood crush on "J.C." that grows in complexity over time, creating a moment so palpable that the characters walk, talk and breathe for the listener.

"Twelve Little Red Heartaches" heads for the honky-tonk in a fun and danceable number you won't be able to get out of your head.  Nygaard slows things down a bit for the sweet vocal jazz style of "Georgia Boy", a love song fraught with joys and difficulties.  Nygaard's imagery gets stretched a bit thin in the interesting approach of "Coyote".  The comparison between the scavenger and herself as one who cannot leave a past love alone is both apt and disturbing.  The song is very well written, but the blunt description of an otherwise subtle and obtuse image creates some difficulty for the listener. 

"His Left Side" is utterly brilliant.  The song is a heartbreaker, a tribute to her father as a stroke victim who wants to live one more time.  Big dreams come true in a small way, but it's enough for his soul to pass into peace in a beautiful moment.  This one is already a fan favorite, and is the sort of keynote song that can grow larger than life in the right spot.  "Say It" is a cute attempt to walk a frightened man through saying those three little words.  There is a humorous heart to this song that's sweet and will likely seem familiar to many listeners.  Nygaard closes with four solid numbers, although none that come up quite to the level of the material that came before.  "What's Cookin'" and "Montana Wind" are solid story songs, and the swaying country arrangement of "Let The Storm Roll In" is aurally pleasing. 

Claudia Nygaard dances on the line between folk and country while writing and performing wonderfully animated character and story songs that are hard to forget.  Let The Storm Roll In warms to you slowly, but by the second or third listen you will be hooked by Nygaard's unassuming style and earthy voice.  Her stories spin like tales told around a family fire, where heart, hearth, humor and shared experience are the best means to survive the hardships of the world.  Let The Storm Roll In will leave an indelible impression.

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

Learn more about Claudia Nygaard at www.claudianygaard.com or www.myspace.com/claudianygaardLet The Storm Roll In drops on June 21, 2011.  Keep checking your favorite music retailers for availability.