MIC's Listen to Norway series continues with Veronica Akselsen's 'Fattige var de som først fikk se'
Fattige var de som først fikk se means roughly: “Poor were those who first got to see”. The title is taken from one of the songs on this very unconventional Christmas record.
It is almost difficult to know where to start when it comes to reciting the fabulous reception this album got upon its release in Norway.
But he singular most important trait, what makes it different from all the Christmas records that are released annually, and what has made critics involuntarily stain their reviews with tears, is the utmost sincerity and truth that seems to fill the songs.
This record manages the almost impossible, to reclaim and reissue the true meaning of Christmas.
To a large extent this is due to the sobriety of the production; missing are all the grandiose gestures and exaggerated arrangements that blatantly, or insipidly, seek to infuse us with the “holy mood” of Christmas. Instead we get original and unexpected versions of Christmas standards as well as songs belonging to a different catalogue, namely the deeply religious songbook of the Romani (gypsy) people. Veronica Akselsen, the voice on this uncomplicated miracle of a record, is of
Romani heritage, her father being the renowned singer Elias Akselsen.
Clear, and young and intensely honest, she is the pivotal element in this experience, for her voice rings true and seems to be the voice of conviction itself, as if there is no doubt whatever in it. And so the lyrics sung are compelling and one finds oneself listening as never before, listening as if every word were vital and could make a world of difference.