Published Oct 10, 2015After a mix-up with the festival schedule that left Sóley Stefánsdóttir without a solo set, the former member of Icelandic supergroup Seabear was a last minute squeeze-in, playing after her fellow countrymen, Pétur Ben and Snorri Helgason. Stefánsdóttir, who performs under her first name, performed stripped-down versions of a handful of songs from her two solo full-length albums, including this year's Ask the Deep. Behind a simple set-up of only a keyboard and a loop pedal, Sóley delivered mournful, vivid and sometimes frightening images of despair through her solemn and gentle voice.
Despite her musical seriousness, Sóley was very playful about her sombre material, joking that happy songs were "out of the question." She corrected herself by asking the audience if they wanted "very sad or medium sad or medium-rare sad" songs. The shift between Sóley's charming banter and grim narratives made her set very engaging.
The final and greatest moment of the night was the hauntingly gorgeous "I'll Drown," a standout song from Sóley's first album, We Sink. Everybody in the room was immediately grabbed by Sóley's masterful looping skills, using her voice as the soft percussion and background ambience, combined with wistful piano and a sweeping chorus proclaiming death before love. There was dead silence from the audience up until the very last sustained note.