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Review: Anna Von Hausswolff, 'Ceremony'

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When you put on Anna Von Hausswolf's second album, Ceremony, everything around you changes — that's its first surprise. That ability to be instantly distinct is the mark of any great record; it's a vibe, and here that vibe is dramatic and stark and, as Ceremony progresses, surprising.
Last summer in Von Hausswolf's home country of Sweden, Ceremony got a lot of love — it was nominated for a two Swedish Grammys and a Nordic Music Prize nomination (Sweden's album of the year award). With its July 9 release date, we're only now getting to hear its enchanting sound in the U.S.
A large part of Ceremony's charm — beyond the thoughtful songwriting — lies in the presence of a pipe organ, an unusual sound in popular music. Von Hausswolf used the one at a church in Gothenburg where she recorded Ceremony, and it's that organ drone which also connects the singer with her love of noise and black metal music.
Von Hausswolff's voice possesses the power to soar with those mighty pipes and still hold tight to delicate, personal emotions. I hope to find one album like Ceremony every year — a rare, thoughtful, inspiring record for a night on the couch or a candlelit evening — and now I've got one for 2013.
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