More than one fan called The World Is Saved a perfect winter album upon its release, and that's a good assessment even above and beyond its striking cover photo, showing Stina Nordenstam standing in snow at night. Nordenstam's move over the years from polite, jazz-inflected pop to something far more unusual and haunting -- even while retaining many of the same musical elements she started with -- has been its own underappreciated tale, and The World Is Saved is a striking new chapter, as befits an album that begins with the line "They put a needle once in my spine." Nordenstam's ear for her own vocal gifts might well be the key to her work, using everything from close microphone singing to distanced, echoed sighing, sometimes in combination with each other. But most often it is all about the voice as it stands, taking the central role in a song while never dominating it; the many musicians helping her often create some tight grooves and performances (the slink of "On Falling" alone shows that this album is as much for dancing as contemplation, while "From Cayman Islands with Love" singlehandedly makes the idea of trip-hop interesting again) but always with a careful and calm air. The steady guitar part that opens "125" is a prime example on its own, it's at once serene and stark, then suddenly silenced by Nordenstam's singing. The textural combinations that result can be a delight, from the mix between Hammond organ and a slipping, sliding electronic cascade on "Winter Killing" to the nervous, just off-kilter-enough string arrangements on "I'm Staring Out the World" (an absolutely wonderful song title) and "The Morning Belongs to the Night." The American edition adds some tracks from contemporary singles to the end of the disc.
The World Is Saved Review
by Ned Raggett