Kate Havnevik, Malankton (Universal Republic Records, 2007)

Kate Havnevik hails from Oslo, the capital of Norway. She had been working on several different recording projects simultaneously, of which Melankton was the first to get released and therefore qualifies as her debut CD. Havnevik's style is an intriguing blend of pop and electronica with lush orchestral arrangements. In general, Melankton works best when the orchestration gets precedence over the electronics.

The techno/electronica genre boasts a number of noteworthy female singers who have clearly inspired Havnevik and influenced her approach. Havnevik chose a number of prominent producers in the genre to collaborate on the album with her. The most noteworthy of these is Guy Sigsworth, best known for working with Imogen Heap both as a producer on her solo records and as a collaborator in the band Frou Frou. The problem with this is that Havnevik wears her influences very clearly on her sleeve, and some of the songs wind up sounding too familiar. Songs like "Travel In Time" and "It's Not Fair" would have been more impressive singles at the beginning of the decade than they are now.

Havnevik shows a bit more ambition, though, by going to Slovakia and having the Bratislavia Symphony Orchestra record tracks which Havnevik largely arranged herself. The orchestral elements in the songs really stand out, and play to the strength's in Havnevik's voice. In particular, "Nowhere Warm" and "Timeless" are terrific ballads that by themselves more than justify the purchase of the CD. The latter song, which makes very effective use of a repeating four-chord progression, was added to the album after its initial release, to take advantage of its inclusion in an episode of Grey's Anatomy.

Kate Havnevik is a talented vocalist with some promise as a songwriter and arranger as well. Melankton only occasionally succeeds in distinguishing Havnevik from performers with a similar style, though. I'd definitely recommend a couple of the songs, but if you're not a fan of the style of acts like Frou Frou or Portishead or Massive Attack, you'd probably be content to download those songs instead of purchasing the whole CD.

Overall Grade: B-

reviewed by Scott

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