Two years after The Practice of Love and the collaborative project with Håvard Volden as Lost Girls, Norwegian singer-songwriter and musician Jenny Hval hasreleased a new album called Classic Objects which is out now via 4AD.
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“In 2020, like everyone else, I was just a private person,” says Hval. “No artists were allowed to perform. I was reduced to ‘just me.’” As a result, Hval questioned what “just me” could mean. Was it the version that never got away from her hometown? Was it the idea that there is an obvious truth behind a work of art? Is art nothing but a fancy, difficult construct, and one that is not really necessary?
As an exercise, Hval wrote straight-forward stories about life, investigating the stripped-down “just me” concept. She had been “just me” before too, when at 24, while living in Australia, she was diagnosed with celiac disease and could no longer begin her music career in the way she had foreseen. “Although I would not say I have a disability, just an invisible complication, this revealed to me the impossible expectations of physical ableness from the music industry, or any industry relying upon a precarious workforce,” says Hval. “It revealed to me how little the human experience and its diversity is valued in music, which in turn revealed that it’s not really a very sustainable or even relevant form of expression.”
Classic Objects, however, is not about these things. But when Hval started writing stories that eventually became this record, the pandemic hit and she remembered these specific times in her life, these phases of feeling completely stripped of value. Hval elaborates: “This made me want to write simple stories. My problem was that I found that the music component in the writing process made the words stray from their path and even jump into the absurd. I think it is just bound to happen when there is music involved. After all, a song isn’t just words, it has a melody, and the reason we have melodies is to step into the dark and jump off cliffs.”