If Nashville were in Norway, the music coming out of it would sound like this standout “Nordicana” septet.
On the Northern Belle’s new album, We Wither, We Bloom, memorable melodies, sweet harmonies, jangly guitars, a homegrown pop sensibility, and clever lyrics show why they’re among the pioneers of the Nordicana scene that’s been making itself known in Nashville and the wider U.S.
Frontwoman Stine Andreassen draws on a bunch of comparisons to try to describe their sound: “A Norwegian fiddler and a legend on pedal steel — let’s say Jon Graboff — had a foursome with Stevie Nicks and the 12-string guitar player in the Byrds [that would be Roger McGuinn] and then they had two babies and it was Jenny Lewis and Kacey Musgraves.”
That’s a lot to imagine. It’s more real and more gratifying to just listen to the Northern Belle quick as you can. As soon as I did, it made me want to head to Oslo with my guitar and a cardboard sign that read “Take me to Stine Andreassen.”
We Wither, We Bloom is the band's third studio album and the first to be released internationally. It comes after Andreassen and the Northern Belle received widespread praise and a Spellemann nomination (the Norwegian Grammy) for their 2018 album, Blinding Blue Neon. Having quit her day job to pursue music full time, Andreassen traveled to Nashville for three months in the spring of 2019 to write the follow-up. The creative boost she got during her time in Music City is all over the new record.
We talked to Andreassen about We Wither, We Bloom, and the video for the eminently singable track “Gemini.”
Cowboys & Indians: What is the song “Gemini” about?
Stine Andreassen: This song is about all the prejudice I’ve been met with because I’m a woman. It feels like I’ve had to work twice as hard as a man would, just to get some recognition. I’m supposed to be a perfect mother, a compassionate and composed human being, and one who goes the extra mile. On the other hand, if I don’t live up to certain expectations, I’m too emotional or sensitive. You’ll never win.
C&I: Who/what were some influences when it came to writing the song?
Andreassen: The spirit of finding yourself and standing up for yourself is a thread woven through the whole record We Wither, We Bloom, and I wanted this song to capture a bit of Loretta Lynn, Kacey Musgraves, and Stevie Nicks. I get the feeling that all of these women would let you know their opinion whether you liked it or not. I love that! I also really dig the song “If I Wanted Your Opinion” by Michaela Anne. I had already written “Gemini” when that song was released, but I kinda wish I had written that song as well. You’ll get it when you listen to it. A lot of us have gone through the same experiences as her.
C&I: Any cool stories from making the video for “Gemini”?
Andreassen: We wanted to capture the morning light and the sunrise, so we were at the set at around 6 a.m. It was magical. When we started to film at the beach at Ulvøya a family was doing their morning bath. It was corona, so we didn’t want to intrude, but they stopped to listen when we filmed and it turned out they are fans of our band. It made my day. This was one month into the pandemic, and I hadn’t seen that many people in a while, not even my friends, family, or the band.
Photography: Images courtesy Julia Marie Nagelstad