Oddly enough the word Amandine is heard more often in the kitchen than in a music studio. The definition of amandine is “to prepare or garnish with almonds.” I’m not a chef and do not aspire to be one, but I can parallel garnishing something with almonds to Armandine’s new album Solace in Sore Hands because it’s definitely a delicacy.
You know immediately when your ears are being graced by genuinely great music. Listening to Solace in Sore Hands I have found myself in one of those moments -- the attention to instrumental detail is amazing. From the twang of Olof Gidlof's banjo, to the transitions John Andersson makes between his accordion, glockenspiel and the piano; every second is timed and orchestrated perfectly. FatCat Records UK made a good decision when they established a contract with these guys.
“Faintest of Sparks” is a brilliant opening to the album. You will get caught up in the sound of the banjo, until your ears pick up the faint ding of the Glockenspiel bells and then you get swept in full force when the accordion joins. The back-up vocals of Andreas Hedstrom give the song a haunting quality.
My personal favorite is the third track, “Silver Bells,” the sound is exquisite and truly unlike anything I have ever heard. Above and beyond the honesty of the lyrics there is a deep longing in the production of the song. In the moments when Gidlof is singing about the distance and the longing all of the instruments fade ever so slightly and then they pick up their pace and volume during the refrains. The texture of the song changes from smooth to rough and back again, giving you a feeling of deep loss and then hope.
Amandine brings us to an end with Solace in Sore Hands final track “New Morning.” The choice was made well, because of all the songs on this album; this is definitely the one to sign off with. The sound of the Theremin leaves you wanting more! You are all but forced to cycle the album a second time and listen again. Repeat! Repeat! I need more!