Le Lac Long 814 — poet and lyricist Bengt Söderhäll and vocalist/musician and composer Daniel Österjö with a cast of collaborators — is a rising Swedish folk act that creates French chansons out of Swedish poetry. As a result of their internationally acclaimed full-length debut Treize chansons and a string of singles, the Swedish duo toured across Europe to support the album with stops in France, Belgium, Denmark, Czechia and their native Sweden.
The duo close out 2020 with the three song EP La bôite. Centered around an unfussy and unhurried production that allows the material’s gorgeous arrangements and Österjö’s achingly plaintive vocals to shine, the EP for me evokes a complex and confusing array of emotions, thoughts and images: I can’t help but think of late fall and early Winter walks with no apparent direction or motive; of the weariness and exhaustion of a long and difficult year full of profound loss and isolation; of the hope of a new year with new beginnings and possibilities; the fear of things somehow getting worse; the unending cycles of life and death.
Much like the music box from which the EP derives its title, the EP’s material possesses an infinitely looping structure in which songs hint at and refer to each other. “L’ombre d’un bourdon” is a delicate song centered around twinkling keys, strummed guitar, Österjö’s achingly plaintive vocals, soaring organs and a sepia-toned nostalgia that ends with an old-timey round before gently fading out. “Ils ailment,” is a shimmering and bittersweet waltz with an opening verse that prophetically hints at life during the pandemic — although it was written long before. And much like its predecessor, the song features a gorgeous yet simple arrangement of twinkling piano, strummed guitar and vocal. The EP’s last track, EP title track “La bôite” refers back to the coda of the opening track, evoking the music box concept — and the unending cycles of our existence.
With a this year coming to a close, why not be reminded that while life is painful and difficult, it can be beautiful as well?