Boomkat Product Review:
Anna Von Hausswolff showing off her range and versatility as she veers from Liz Fraser or Lisa Gerrard-like dynamic warbling to smoky Nico-esque curdles and operatics in the vein of Diamanda Galás. A masterclass.
When Anna Von Hausswolff made her Southern Lord debut in 2020 with 'All Thoughts Fly', it felt like a dramatic left turn. Previous albums had made use of the pipe organ, but in the context of Von Hausswolff's dramatic experimental pop songs, her powerful singing voice was nowhere to be found. So for newer listeners who might have only heard the instrumental material, 'Live at Montreaux Jazz Festival' is a crucial primer, scraping together the best bits of 2015's "The Miraculous" and 2018's "Dead Magic".
The album was recorded in 2018, when Von Hausswolff was opening for Nick Cave in Switzerland on the Lake Geneva shoreline. It was a smart match; Von Hausswolff's velveteen pop inversions are rebellious, her commanding performance betrays a rock 'n roll pedigree. Live albums, even the best live albums, often fail to capture the imagination simply because they're less-than-brilliant versions of songs rendered in the studio. But here we manage to get a sense of who Von Hausswolff is as an artist; she excels on stage, and her voice - sounding like goth-era Liz Fraser on opening track 'The Truth the Glow the Fall' and prog-era Kate Bush on 'Pomperipossa' - has to be heard live to be believed.
There's no studio trickery and yet it's all fireworks from beginning to end. Von Hausswolff adds operatic grace and grandeur to a backdrop of lurching sludge rawk on 'Ugly and Vengeful', and levitates with folksy closeness on the near-ambient 'Källans Återuppståndelse'. Sometimes a voice can scrape into the soul - Von Hausswolff deserves to be mentioned alongside the greats.