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New York Cool - Music

CMJ Music Festival:
Tobias Froberg, Theresa Andersson, and Ane Brun
The Living Room
October 22, 2008

Written by Eric Atienza
Photographed by
Amy Davidson

Opposite Photo: Ane Brun


The Lower East Side was positively Scandinavian Wednesday night as Tobias Froberg, Theresa Andersson, and Ane Brun made themselves comfortable in the Living Room for the second night of CMJ 2008.

Tobias Froberg

Froberg, from Stockholm, Sweden, played the early set accompanying his own smooth vocals alternately on piano and guitar. His warm notes were poignant yet relaxing, evoking a slower-tempoed Five for Fighting, and his between song banter was dry, witty, and like his music calmly inviting. While his singing voice was undeniably touching, the song structures on piano tended toward the repetitive recalling memories of elevators and dentist waiting rooms. His guitar work was far superior, however, channeling delicate Nick Drake constructions.

Theresa Andersson

Andersson, a Swedish transplant to Louisiana, took the stage next amid an Andrew Bird-esque set up of drums, guitar, violin, dual microphones and a board of looping pedals. Aside from a small slip at the start of the set her command of multiple instruments via her pedal was just as good as Bird's. She accompanied herself on the violin (picked and bowed), guitar, drums, and supplied her own backing vocals. Her voice was huge and dynamic, one of the best I've heard in a long time. She reached sweet, triuphant highs and immediately scaled down to deep, bluesy lows. Her voice could be soft and reedy or explosively powerful, never missing a note.

Theresa Andersson

Her nine years playing in New Orleans were audible in every aspect of her music from the smoky undertones when her voice went deep, to the soul, blues and jazz that formed the lifeblood of her songs. Applause routinely broke out after she belted out extended high notes and she left the stage to a standing ovation.

Ane Brun

After Andersson's standing O, Norweigen Swede Brun took the stage to a room that was standing room only. Her velvety voice draws immediate comparisons to Ani DiFranco, but Brun features a wicked vibrato that adds a good deal of soul to the mix. The airy "Treehouse Song" was her high point of the night, its quirkiness playing well off of her trembling voice. Her set was filled largely with foreboding, heavily melodic songs that created a tense, haunting atmosphere. She occasionally ran the risk of veering into static, unchanging song structures but her excellent voice was enough to capture attention by itself. Her set was still, contemplative and overall stunning.

Ane Brun

Though Swedish folk/blues may not be a big genre in music right now, the three artists on display at the Living Room last night certainly put CMJ on notice. For these acts, and Andersson especially, 2008 could be a big coming out party. And I can't wait to hear it.

Tobias Froberg and Ane Brun

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