Sumie appears out of a soft mist, attracting your attention by quietly making herself invisible until you notice she is there at your side with her silence. This, her debut album is truly lovely reminding me of German folk singer Sibylle Baier and strangely following a similar pattern in releasing her record after her children were born. Luckily we didn’t have to wait more than 30 years for Sumie’s debut like we did with Sibylle Baier’s early seventies recordings released in 2006. There’s also something of early seventies folkie Bridget St John in there, a sparse acoustic with simple arpeggios and uncomplicated finger picking, leaves wide open spaces for her ambiguous songs and soothing melodies.
Sumie is Swedish with a Japanese father and a Swedish mother singing in English giving rise to cross cultural meetings that draw upon European folk influences but with that Japanese minimalism and impressionistic lyrical mysteries. This of course is her strength, keeping you guessing whilst maintaining a distance, enticing you, placing her lips to your ear before dissolving.
She explains that in having two small children, she could only play quietly and one can imagine her finally getting the children to sleep and the moment that after a long and tiring day that she finally got to pick up her guitar and softly began to explore her imagination.
This is another release on the consistently interesting Bella Union label and came out in December 2013. One must congratulate ex Cocteau Twin and label head Simon Raymonde on another impressive find. The record is produced by pianist Dustin O’Halloran who expertly adds subtleties to the acoustic and voice and finally piano.
An intriguing and elegant debut from a thoughtful and interesting mother of two from Gothenburg embracing the delicate simplicity and mood of her dual cultural upbringing and an appreciation of a pastoral English seventies folk tradition.