A Gifted Cellist Sails Beyond Sweden, Across 'Fields Of Love'

Jan 22, 2014
Originally published on January 22, 2014 7:01 pm

The daughter of two musicians, Linnea Olsson started playing the cello at age 6. She was born in a small city on Sweden's west coast, and grew up listening to ABBA and Bjork, as well as more eclectic artists like the Dutch singer-songwriter Anouk and the British rock band Skunk Anansie.

But her debut album, Ah!, is a creation all her own, with music largely based in improvisation and lyrics that resemble fanciful fairy tales. (For example, "Giddy Up!" finds her picturing herself as she rides a horse across "fields of love.")

Olsson recently spoke with All Things Considered about channeling heartbreak and restlessness into her music. Click the audio link to hear more.

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Finally this hour, we'd like to introduce you to an artist whose enchanting voice and masterful cello playing have captured audiences well beyond her native Sweden.

LINNEA MATILDA OLSSON: My name is Linnea Matilda Olsson, and I'm born on the west coast of Sweden, in a small city called Halmstad.


OLSSON: I had collected a lot of inspiration during, I don't know, maybe years. I just felt I had a lot of music inside me that I just had to get out of me. And so then I just - I sat down with a cello and I - a lot of songs are based on improvisation, at least the instrumental. I didn't struggle with writing these songs. They just already had written themselves inside of me.

But, yes, there is a bit of heartbreak in these songs and also a big amount of restlessness, I would say. I'm a restless person and I think that's also one reason why I actually wrote these songs.


OLSSON: The song "Ah" that we're hearing right now is - it starts off with this effect delay or echo. I just like the way that the delay just make everything sound bigger and fatter.


OLSSON: (Singing) The tears that I cry are for no reason. Empty hearts are so last season.

The tears I cry are for no reason. Empty hearts are so last season. It's just, stop feeling sorry for yourself. Go and take a dip and you will feel better.


OLSSON: (Singing) I want to dance. I want to twirl because I have been alone for so many days.

My parents are musicians and when I grew up, I had music all around all the time. For them, it's one of the purposes of life. And it just made me feel the same way.


OLSSON: (Singing) Honeybee, what do you want to tell me? Whisper secret words in my ear. Do you, like me, wonder what the moon would say if it could talk to you, darling? (Unintelligible) Where will you take me?

This song, "Giddy Up!" it's - this is the most fairytale-like lyrics of the album. It's about me. I always saw myself doing all the things that I sing about in the song.


OLSSON: (Singing) Giddy up, giddy up over the fields. Giddy up, giddy up over the fields.

Yeah, I literally picture myself riding a horse across a big field.


OLSSON: (Singing) Of love, of love, of love.

Field of love. I don't know what that looks like but that's what I'm doing.



OLSSON: (Singing) Behind golden, a curtain of clouds, closed our lips with tears all over our cheeks. She hopes a hundred magic things.

For me, music is the absolute source of joy in my life and it's got to be something that I want to do for the rest of my life, as long as I can.

SIEGEL: Linnea Olsson's debut album, "Ah," is out this week. Her U.S. tour begins in February. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.