Label: Suburban Home
Released: October 23, 2009
When I think of an album that tells a story, I tend to think of concept albums where the story often takes precedence over the music, resulting in weak, but often needed filler. Elin Palmer’s Postcard has a very narrative nature to it, but in a far different way than a concept album or a rock opera. Instead of imposing narrative conventions on the music, Palmer’s music itself seems to be a story.
Postcard wanders between folk and post-rock, visiting chamber music and jazz and dabbling in polka, cabaret and even twee pop along the way. Palmer draws on these traditions almost like sub plots that are interwoven throughout, peering out subtly at times and taking center stage at others. Like any good story, this one has many pulses that at times are in sync and at others run counter to each other and Palmer’s ability to both sensual and vaguely eerie leave the meaning of this work ultimately in the ears of the listener. She facilitates this by letting the songs, and the album as a whole, follow their own muse. Even the final track, which seems at first to be the album’s dénouement, ultimately runs its own course and becomes the climax.
Even an album with an explicit story often fails to really tell it well. Music is simply more engaging when the listener participates in the art. Few albums do that as successfully as Elin Palmer’s Postcard.
If you’re curious about my rating categories, read the description.