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sjofn: Press

I haven't heard anything this beautiful in ages. I've known stars....I've written with great songwriters. You...young lady....are a galaxy!

Larkin Williamson - Cornett Records (Oct 13, 2012)
Sjofn's album... is blowing my mind - one of the most remarkable albums of the year. Absolutely amazing. It deserves to be enormous.
SJOFN is a musical treasure. If you haven't contacted the Folk Alliance organization...please do so. She is my of the greatest Folk Artists....ever.
Tom - Twisted Tom (May 25, 2011)
Sjofn: Secret (Parallax Sounds, 2010)

Sjofn is a folk singer-songwriter from Alaska and Secret is her debut album. I had some doubts when I first received the album, but sometimes you better hit the play button before starting to form an opinion. Based on the cover I didn’t expect this to be my kind of stuff, but in the end it was definitely my kind of stuff. Minimalistic and simple folk music, but with very thoughtful arrangements and well crafted songs. Sometimes Sjofn’s music reminds me of Rose Melberg’s solo material. Maybe if Rose moved to Alaska and started playing folk songs on her front porch it would sound something like this. 17 songs is way too big one time dose though and Secret would get a higher amount of hearts, if I could cut it down in two and form an imaginary album out of the better half of the songs. Now there’s a danger that the real jewels just gets buried in the crowd.
Sjofn - Secret

It’s sometimes all too easy to dismiss an album on first listen and so it proves with Secret by Sjofn, I stuck with it through my initial disappointment and was rewarded with an album that is heartwarming in it’s simplicity on the ears, despite some lovely flourishes throughout.

Sjofn and her band (Mountain Mission) have conjured up an album that is at times desolate and sparse, yet also radiates a sense of warmth through both the guitar and her vocals. The overall feel is folky with an earthy weariness to the lyric, befitting her home in the Chugach Mountains of Alaska.

The downside to the release is the the album is a touch long with 17 tracks and could have benefitted from a cull of around 5 or 6 of them, at times it does lose it’s way and therefore it’s interest to the listener, but in the age of a quick fix and iPods that’s not likely to be an issue and is still worth a purchase.
Kev - The Beat Surrender (Aug 4, 2010)
If you’re not already swamped with minimalist Alaskan folk, here’s an addition to your collection you might want to consider. Apparently named after the Norse love goddess, Sjofn is a singer-songwriter who calls the Chugach Mountains of southern Alaska home and, like any self-respecting artist, is touring Iceland and Greenland this summer. Sjofn’s music brings words like simple, unadorned, and unpolished to mind, but it also has a specific and yet ethereal quality which invites serious thoughts on the subtle distinctions between those terms. Without a doubt, though, Secret is an album of small, unassuming and often bewitching music, not one to recommend unconditionally but undoubtedly an intriguing work as well as an insight into a cold, alien place.

Secret‘s cover implies that this is a one-girl-one-guitar record, rough-hewn from the atmosphere of those mountains. Certainly Sjofn’s plaintive acoustic is the dominant instrument here, but Paul Monsaratt’s clarinet also plays an unexpectedly key role, dancing quietly above the strumming. Percussion and a few electronic touches round out the sound instrumentally, but the most genuinely interesting sonic element on show is Sjofn’s own voice. One part American country drawl, one part singular Alaskan mystique, it’s distinctive but can take some time to get used to. In fact, these unadorned vocals and songs recall early Dylan, even if song titles like ‘Ordinary Girl’, ‘Let Me Be’ and ‘Work Song’ accurately indicate that Sjofn’s lyrical focus is on smaller things than the truths blowin’ in the wind; she prefers playing on her porch to anywhere else, after all.

Ultimately, although Sjofn’s origins and the idiosyncrasies they bring with them are fascinating, Secret is held back by its somewhat unvaried sonic palette which, so heavily reliant on a few ramshackle elements, tends to make the 44 minutes it lasts feel too long. The best five or six songs here would make a wonderful EP, stoking excited expectation of a more varied LP, but strung out to full-album length the fatigue can set in after the first seven or eight of the seventeen tracks on offer. Despite this shortcoming, Secret remains an interesting album and is no doubt worth a look for fans of folk from unusual climes.
Translated from French: The Icelandic Sjofn Andersdottir bears the same name as the Nordic goddess of love and passion. A nice omen for this artist who is now lives in the Chugach Mountains of Alaska, USA. Signed on the english independent label Pa...rallax Sounds, she release her debut album Secret. This is an ideal setting to capture the soft light and melancholic melodies composed by the musician skilled at the guitar and banjo. Combining a certain coolness and warmth of Nordic music Americana stripped in this case, Sjofn arrives with her band of musicians Mountain Mission also comprised of Paul Montserrat (clarinet, whistle, etc..) Leif Ericson (guitar, mandolin, violin, etc..), the disc producer Jesse Gunn (electric guitar, string arrangements), and guest star bassist Christina Brown to embark in their world lo-fi folk clever and captivating.

Along the 17 tracks (does not however exceed 48 minutes duration) that make up Secret she wanders and leaves the listener with delight from beginning to end on a sea of pearls highlighted by the siren voice of disenchanted Icelandic, with instruments, slightly reverberated to give it a dreamy and very attractive feel. Both experimental and accessible, this organic, minimalist folk album, which releases a lot of quiet, intimate and delicate songs, invites us to curl up in a quilt to enjoy this little moment of comfort, making us temporarily forget the difficulties of outside world with an almost disconcerting ease. Magical. A debut album of a goddess / mermaid haunting Icelandic charm. Intriguing. Final Mark: 16/20

L'islandaise Sjöfn Andersdóttir porte le même prénom que la déesse nordique de la passion et de l'amour. Un joli présage pour cette artiste qui se trouve désormais installée dans la chaîne de montagne Chugach en Alaska, aux Etats-Unis. Signée sur le label indépendant anglais Parallax Sounds, elle a pu sortir son premier album Secret. Ce dernier s'avère un écrin idéal pour capturer les douces mélopées lumineuses et mélancoliques composées par la musicienne aussi habile à la guitare qu'au banjo. Alliant un certain flegme nordique et la chaleur de la musique americana dépouillée dans ce cas de figure, Sjöfn arrive avec son band de musiciens Mountain Mission composé également de Paul Monserrat (clarinette, sifflet, etc.), de Leif Ericson (guitare, mandoline, violon, etc.), le producteur du disque Jesse Gunn (guitare électrique, arrangements des cordes) et en guest star la bassiste Christina Brown à nous embarquer dans leur univers lo-fi folk habile et envoûtant.

Le long des 17 plages (ne dépassant cependant pas les 48 minutes de durée) qui composent Secret, l'auditeur se laissera divagué, avec délice, du début à la fin sur une mer de perles mise en relief par la voix de sirène désenchantée de l'islandaise qui sera, avec les instruments, légèrement réverbérée pour lui donner un aspect dreamy et ô combien encore plus séduisant. A la fois expérimental et accessible, cet album folk organique et minimaliste, qui dégage beaucoup de quiétude, d'intimisme et de délicatesse, nous convie à se lover dans une couette pour apprécier ce petit moment de réconfort, nous faisant oublier temporairement les difficultés du monde extérieur avec une aisance presque déconcertante. Magique.

Un premier album d'une déesse/sirène islandaise au charme lancinant. Intrigant.
It's not too hard to imagine a clarinet in a folk song: There's something about the instrument's soft, rich tone that supplies a sort of visceral warmth, adding shading and texture without overwhelming the arrangement.

In Sjofn's debut full length CD "Secret" Paul Monsarrat allows the clarinet to do all the work of a typical band. Sjofn's own work is beautifully sparse and light with vocals and guitar. Monsarrat gives additional heft with his clarinet, especially in the soaring solos.

Sjofn is a charmingly unassuming singer-songwriter who lives in Alaska, but calls Iceland her home. As a performer, she has a voice so naturally quiet that she almost does the opposite of projecting her voice — she seems to sing inward, in a way that gives her music unmistakable intimacy. Though "Whiskey" is by far her most popular song, her vulnerability makes her an ideal match for the clarinet's mixture of grace and warmth.
Shar - No Depression (Jul 19, 2010)
Rating 8.9 out of 10
- gogoyoko (Apr 26, 2011)
Album Title: Secret
Artist: Sjofn
Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)
Title of Review: Alaska’s Little Secret: Sjofn

Alaskan singer/songwriter Sjofn’s debut album, Secret, currently available through UK's Parallax Sounds, showcases her skill at song crafting. Her simple guitar strumming or drone-like picking and clear little-girl voice set the tone for this album. The title cut, “Secret,” and “Let Me Be” are naked tracks with just Sjofn’s voice and her solo guitar work.

Most of the songs are equally naked and somewhat simplistic, but Sjofn is able to complete a thought and deliver that with skill. “Work Song,” with its banjo, washtub bass, and Paul Monsarrat’s clarinet is an odd combination. But it is characteristic of the creative risks Sjofn is taking with this album. The addition of Paul Monsarrat’s clarinet on “Hey Ho,” “Vagabond,” and “Ordinary Girl,” in particular, is a musical leap, without dropping into jugband or klezmer. It’s an unexpected touch that slips the work into something other than standard folk or Americana and well into Sjofn’s own creation.

Besides’s Monsarrat’s clarinet, he also plays banjo, tin whistle, and washtub bass. Christina Brown also assists on washtub bass, Leif Ericson adds fiddle, and Jesse Gunn plays electric guitar and fatcat strings. Gunn also did the string arrangements for the album. Their skills are most noticeable in “Preacher’s Son,” where Sjofn’s guitar and vocals are enhanced by the addition of Leif Ericson’s mournful fiddle.

But it is in “Missouri,” a breakup song, where the full band’s talents shine. This is only one of two tracks on the album that have backup vocals. It also has more production that any of the others, including Monsarrat’s clarinet but also two guitars, an electric guitar, and also shaker and a few licks from a hand drum. Very nicely done. So Sjofn can create multi-layered arrangements. She just chooses not to most of the time.

Sjofn does experiment. There are two cuts on the CD that I would simply call theater pieces. Married People” begins with a monolog by Sjofn and ends with one line repeatedly sung. It’s very brief. The last track on the album, “Ahh” tells a story though sounds such as walking out of the rain, wolves, a door opening and closing, a heartbeat, glass breaking, a scream, a shot, then a rewind. What follows is a mix of sounds that don’t seem to have much to do with the first group of noises. But it’s very intriguing.

All of the seventeen songs on this album are very short. In fact, the whole album is only 44 minutes long. There are no long instrumentals or elaborate poetic rants. But what is there is interesting to listen to and that’s saying a lot. Instead of mimicking a lot of the fluff that’s on disc, Sjofn has chosen to use a simpler vehicle and let her songs, her voice, and unusual instrumental choices carry her work. It’s really a bold idea. It’s no wonder then that Sjofn has been in demand at folk festivals all over the globe. It will be interesting to see what else she will pull out of her bag of tricks in future albums.

Janie Franz - Hiraether (Jun 28, 2010)
Фолк-сцена современной не коммерческой Америки сейчас вообще разнообразна и гиперинтересна — особенно, если смотреть на явление в целом, включая и сонграйтерский фолк, и т.н. «психофолк», и «неофолк». Одна из представительниц этой сцены странная женщина, именующая себя именем Sjofn. . Песни, записанные при участии небольшой группы музыкантов-​единомышленников,​ тонко чувствующих атмосферу, необходимую для песен автора и играющих на характерном инструментарии: флейте, мандолине и воздушной перкуссии. Сама автор, помимо пения, тихонько щиплет струны гитары. Что касается манеры исполнения Sjofn, в которой усматривают гренландские, а точнее, кельтские корни, то это абсолютное волшебство. Как будто эти песни спеты принцессой или даже, может быть, просто девушкой, которую злые и недалёкие люди обвинили в колдовстве и заточили в затерянной башне, в глубине древних непроходимых лесов или гор. Кажется, что звук её голоса несет сквозь листву странствующий ветер, и он — в абсолютном согласии с природой — обращается в песни самой земли. И в этой связи думаешь, что Sjofn поёт не песни собственного сочинения (что на самом деле так), а выдает тот самый корневой фолк, Севера (Америки? Европы? Азии?) в котором народные сказания, притчи, заговоры и чаяния отражаются столь же кристально чисто, как чист утренний воздух вдали от цивилизации.
Софья С. - Smolensk SPI Jornal (Aug 8, 2009)
Sjofn's music is fascinating! I hear a lot of music, especially singer songwriters. Her work stands out. Hard to describe. To say it is beautiful would not be quite right. Haunting does not capture it either. Mythical seems closer. Like a story people tell each other about something someone might have seen that no one else quite believes ... Mythical. Songs that come straight out of sleepy dreams. Fascinating. Enchanting. I would follow these songs into the woods.
Melissa A. Robinson - Last.Fm (Jan 20, 2009)
Her style… unique. Her voice… childlike. Her sound… sweet, yet haunting. Such intimate recordings… so stark… so naked… so eerie… innocent, yet ghostly. An artist who‘s music brings to mind faded photographs and images in sepia tones. Sjofn's sound is entirely original. Truly stunning.
Phyllis Johnson - MySpace (Jul 28, 2008)
Sjofn's music is...original and beautiful. 'Married People' brought tears to my eyes.
Florence Joelle - Kiss of Fire (Feb 25, 2010)
Best of the No. 9 List ... Sjofn is one of my faves from the 195 artists listed over the past 6 months... she is a bright light in the music world... intriguing music!
I like to link this artist. A bit reclusive and not easy to find, but at 20,000 plays she's being found. Addictive, quirky, truly a skilled hookmaster.
Kurt Lussier - Facebook (Jul 21, 2010)
Amazing stuff….outstanding original weird beautiful joyful brilliant sad happy…….I could go on all day!
...the kind of songs a dream would enjoy!
Beautiful music and thought provoking lyrics!!!
Clymore - Reverb Nation (Mar 15, 2010)
Simply beautiful!
Dark child -like vocal mixed with haunting musical mystery.
Very hauntingly atmospheric- deceptive in its simplicity.
Poitín - Reverb Nation (Jul 2, 2009)
Very hauntingly atmospheric- deceptive in its simplicity.
Poitín - Reverb Nation (Jul 2, 2009)