If Grief Could Wait

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Henry Purcell; Leonard Cohen; Susanna Wallumrød
ALBUM TITLE: If Grief Could Wait
WORKS: Purcell: The Plaint; If Grief Has Any Pow’r to Kill; A New Ground; O Solitude; A New Scotch Tune; Music For a While; plus: songs by Leonard Cohen, Nick Drake and Susanna Wallumrød
PERFORMER: Susanna Wallumrød (voice), Giovanna Pessi (baroque harp), Jane Achtman (viola de gamba), Marco Ambrosini (nyckelharpa)


This album was originally a project for Baroque-harpist Giovanna Pessi. But when she decided she wanted to avoid a purist early-music sound and chose to work with singer-songwriter Susanna Wallumrød, the two women began to devise the present programme, mixing a couple of Wallumrød’s songs with Purcell, Nick Drake and Leonard Cohen, the John Dowland de nos jours. It’s a wallow in isolation, bereavement and the pain of love.

Wallumrød is from a popular music background and has a rather fragile, highly affecting and appealing voice, occasionally striking echoes of Björk, which is fine in my book. She is equally convincing in the songs of the other three composers, and is especially moving in her own. The usual excellent ECM sound brings out the warmth of Jane Achtman’s viola da gamba and glances light off the brighter textures of Pessi’s harp and Marco Ambrosini’s traditional Swedish nyckelharpa.


Barry Witherden