And She Closed Her Eyes

Collected Works: Music


And She Closed Her Eyes

by Stina Nordenstam

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The first words of And She Closed Her Eyes form a hushed announcement, with Stina Nordenstam enunciating the title of the opening track, ‘When Debbie’s Back from Texas’, in her timid, inimitable voice. It is often assumed that acoustic singer-songwriters tend towards vulnerability, but Nordenstam’s voice takes the notion to an extreme. From her mouth, each word sounds as if it could shatter.

To equate Nordenstam’s timidity with despondency is a mistake, though. On the same song, major-key beams of light break through the gloom with the phrase, ‘She’ll answer you, like lovers do.’ On ‘Viewed from the Spire’, the music slips into unexpected chord progressions, ambling sidesteps that subtly undermine the listener’s expectations. Nordenstam glides between roles, now wounded bird, now benevolent sprite.

At the heart of the record lies ‘Little Star’, its understated lyrics speaking quietly of tragedy: ‘There was a fire at the warehouse / They’re always waiting for a thing like this.’ The track reaches its climax only in the closing section, as a group of angelic choristers rise to the surface, to cushion Nordenstam with a cloud of harmonies. The melancholic Latin prayer they intone breathes new life into the song’s opening line: ‘Little star, so you had to go.’

On the album cover, Nordenstam’s expression is one of peacefulness. She touches her face, which glows against the pale windows behind her, as if envisioning a brighter world. Yet, her introspection implies insulation rather than isolation; like the music it frames, the image suggests safe shelter. As And She Closed Her Eyes grows in familiarity, Nordenstam’s voice nuzzles its way into your consciousness, sighing contentedly in its new home.

Words by John Wadsworth

More to discover

Listen to 'When Debbie's Back from Texas' here, 'Viewed from the Spire' here, and 'Little Star' here. A brief video interview with Stina Nordenstam for MTV from 1994 is available here.

Question of the day

Which musical works from 1994 would you recommend, and why? Let us know on Facebook, Patreon, or Twitter.

Second Coming by The Stone Roses. The slow-burning opener binds us in suspense, ahead of the bluesy grooves and buoyant melodies that follow. (→)

– Hugh Maloney, Silent Frame Sub-Editor (via Patreon →)

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