Stanley Samuelsen, Tíðin Rennur (TUTL, Gateway, Nora Musik, 2008)

Stanley Samuelsen is a singer and guitarist from the Faroe Islands. As my prior knowledge of Faroese music consists of a pair of heavy metal records, I was curious to hear more music from that remote corner of the globe. So when a Danish record label asked The Armchair Critic to review Samuelsen's latest album Tíðin Rennur, I jumped at the opportunity.

Samuelsen wrote two of the songs on Tíðin Rennur himself, and for the rest he set Faroese verses to music. The subject matter ranges from songs about the sea, to the beauty of nature, and even a poem about an elvish queen. The album opens with a poem by J. H. O. Djurhuus, the most famous Faroese poet, about Sigmundur Brestisson, the 10th-century figure who led the conversion of the Faroese to Christianity. Týr's album Land also opens with a poem by the same author on the same subject. Sigmundur evidently didn't endear himself to everybody, and appears to still be a figure of much discussion and debate in the Faroes. At least, the people who make poems and songs seem to think so.

Musically, Tíðin Rennur is folksy in a conventional singer-songwriter sort of way. While Týr wholeheartedly embrace the rhythmic complexities of the Faroes' indigenous music, Samuelsen is content to keep things in 4:4. His guitar playing is very good, though. The language barrier might scare some people off, but fans of laid back, front porch guitar music will find plenty to like on this album. "Høgur Himin," for example, has a cool groove very reminiscent of J. J. Cale. Samuelsen also has a husky baritone voice that suits his style well.

All in all, Tíðin Rennur is a respectable effort by a very capable musician. Like most international folk albums, the subject matter of the songs might be lost on most English speaking would-be listeners. Stanley Samuelsen's approach to making music should still have some fairly broad appeal, though, especially to people who like mellow guitars.

Overall grade: B

reviewed by Scott

A live performance of "Høgur Himin"

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