Nive and the Deer Children – Feet First

Nive Nielsen makes folk interesting, with a hint of rock and grunge.

An unusual blend of folk and world music makes for an intriguing listen with Nive Nielsen and the Deer Children‘s second album, Feet First. It’s the type of captivating approach to typical genre sounds that every artist should strive for, but few achieve. Yet Nive Nielsen is no ordinary creative – the actress and musicia has a spark of ingenuity.

Backing up a little bit, we’ve come a long way since Nielsen dropped her debut album Nive Sings – mostly since there has been six years of radio silence between the two releases. In 2010, the year of its release, the musical world was in the vice-like grip of what I’ve dubbed The beige age of boredom. This was when near every artist emerged with a folk/acoustic sound (the blame for which I lay personally on Mumford & Sons and Ed Sheeran), which frequently was just a boring dawdle from start to finish. See the rise of Adele to superstardom for further confirmation.

Naturally, times have changed and, as we leave that bland time, artists slotting into that category should take a lesson from Nielsen and make their sounds more exciting and engaging as a result. Take the insistent, bass-intensive march of Walking or the world music vibes (before it grows into a blistering piece of almost Morricone-esque guitarwork) of In My Head – Nielsen offers something different on the standard tried and tested formulaic folk. While she maintains a gentle sound, there can be no argument that she is also gently expanding the boundaries of what she is permitted to do.

Of course, it’s not always such a light touch as that in itself would get dull after twelve tracks. Slip for example, positioned to immediately follow the lilting tones of Happy, is a flurry of semi-furious quasi-rock sounds which kicks life back into any listeners beginning to flag. Some may think that it doesn’t sit overly well along the softer sounds that surround it, but it’s a bold move in a new direction to demand attention. There’s no time to drift off with Feet First, Nielsen simply will not allow that.

Which bodes well for such a finely crafted release, as engagement is the main goal. It may also be a sign of intensity to come – after the silence at the end of closing track Grandma Marie, Nielsen is heard absolutely losing her shit. It’s like a micro version of Nirvana’s Endless Nameless, with a solid sense of surpressed angst that the gentle sounds can’t do justice. So could that be an indicator of a heavier release from Nielsen in the future? We certainly wouldn’t complain if so, particularly after the wonderful work of Feet First.

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