After a handful of albums with The Cardigans and two with A Camp here’s Nina Persson’s debut solo long-player, and it’s unmistakably her from the first note; that voice belonging to no one else. Also, Lovefool this ain’t. It’s similar in tone to how Tracey Thorn’s solo albums sit against her Everything But The Girl body of work, which is to say you can’t help but be reminded of the band when listening to the solo artist but you’ll usually find yourself thinking back to the lesser known works of the band, the cracks in the sidewalk, the results from the well-worn path rather than just lining up against the familiar footprints.
So, most prominently, Animal Heart, recalls that very fine Cardigans album, Long Gone Before Daylight. You know, the one with the country/ish tinge; the one that didn’t have a Black Sabbath cover or any cute retro/loungey look to the cover, the one almost nobody bought…
Persson is knee-deep in domestic bliss, new to motherhood, and all seems happy on the home front but Animal Heart has that sense of yearning, the deep concentration behind contemplation that – again, thinking of Long Gone Before Daylight – is so crucial as part of her voice. She has more questions than answers and she has songs that might have suited Lucinda Williams (The Grand Destruction Game, Clip Your Wings) but we’re better off to not have that cracked-chanteuse sound. Just for a change, as much as anything.
It might not be quite as easy to believe Persson singing “I’m still burning bridges for fuel” – it might seem easier to take from a Kathleen Edwards type, but it’s a nice change to hear it in/from this voice – and in the way she flies forward on this album, searching on, the record making more sense, finding its shape, as you plough on through, making more sense, then, with each and every listen, perhaps we have to believe Persson with regard to where and how she finds the fuel. No name-band behind her now. Some of the best songs she’s ever sung right in front of her (and us).