It's not often that a nationally chart-topping artist makes their way through to The Hamilton. At least, not Norwegian chart-toppers. Susanne Sundfør has been lauded in her home country with both critical and commercial praise - her last four albums have all reached #1 in the Norwegian album charts and she has won the Norwegian Grammy for Best Female Performance. Although she has provided vocals for the likes of Royksopp and M83 for the soundtrack to the Tom Cruise movie Oblivion, it was her 2015 album Ten Love Songs that helped her really make waves stateside. The visceral emotion in her voice was only made more potent by the dark synths that permeated every song. But if Ten Love Songs was a raw, cathartic dance party, her latest album Music for People in Trouble (out now through Bella Union) is a somber nightcap spent alone with your darkest thoughts at 4 AM. The intricate musical layers were stripped away, leaving acoustic guitars, pianos, and Sundfør's distinctive voice, creating one of the best artpop albums of 2017.
It made sense that her first appearance in DC was at The Hamilton, because her show was as stripped-down as her latest album. The only musician on stage from start to finish was Sundfør. Those that came to know her music through Ten Love Songs may have been disappointed to find that a majority of her set was dedicated to her most recent album (only "Trust Me" made the setlist), but as she played on grand piano, keys, and acoustic guitar, she quietly won over the crowd with her stunning voice. When a crowd has to focus on just a singer and her instrument of choice, the words ring truer than ever. And with her poignant lyrics, heartbreak-filled melodies, and outstanding voice, it was no surprise to hear more than a few audible sniffles in the crowd. She lightened the mood with many a cheerful "Thanks!" between songs and a cover of Carol King's “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” on grand piano. Going it alone on stage with the spotlight on her, Sundfør took the emotional reins and didn't let go until the very end, creating an absolutely indelible mark on everyone who was fortunate enough to be attendance.
Opening for Susanne Sundfør was Shey Baba, who played a moving solo acoustic set on both piano and guitar. His latest release is the single "Requiem."