First Aid Kit - Who By Fire

  by Zena Grieg

published: 5 / 5 / 2021

First Aid Kit - Who By Fire

Label: Columbia
Format: CD
Excellent tribute album to Leonard Cohen recorded live over two nights at the Royal Dramatic Theatre in Stockholm by sibling duo First Aid Kit


Kiara and Johanna Soderberg, Swedish singers and Brit Award nominees in 2015 and 2019, who perform as First Aid Kit, have released their fifth album ‘Who By Fire’, a tribute album to the late Canadian singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen. Recorded live over two nights at the Royal Dramatic Theatre in Stockholm with an evocative theatrical staging including guest actors, an eight-piece band and a twenty-piece choir, and aired on Swedish TV, the double-album features re-interpretations by them of Cohen’s songs and poems. On why they decided to release this tribute album now, the Soderberg sisters said: “We recently listened back to this concert and realised that this was something out of the ordinary for us… Dwelling deeply into Cohen’s world was a pleasure… The band, the guest artists, the atmosphere on stage… everyone had a great passion and it felt magical.” The twenty-track collection includes many well-known Cohen songs, but also interesting spoken-word pieces and less known singles such as ‘You Want It Darker’, released just before Cohen’s death in November 2016. It resounds to a magnetic cocktail of acoustic guitars, pianos, strings, rhythmic drum beat and hypnotic chimes. Imprinted by alternating solemnity and irreverence, emblematic of Cohen’s work, ‘Who By Fire’, Johanna said, is “… about death… there’s a tension at the beginning, and then it builds and gets bigger and darker. And then at the end, there’s a light to it.” In an album where each track commands attention there are many highlights, including a stripped-back rendition of Cohen’s 1967 debut single ‘Suzanne’; ‘Chelsea Hotel#2’, the soft vocals of Jesper Lindell perfectly complementing the sister’s harmonies; ‘The Asthmatic’ in which the voices of the actors Nina Zanjani and Maria Hansson-Bergqvist combine with the two sisters in a cacophonous chorus, the refrain “you cannot breathe’, carrying an eery, stark relevance; a dramatic and contemporary-sounding ‘Famous Blue Raincoat’ with compelling vocals from the singer Maja Francis; plus ‘Marianne’ with all participants bringing the album to a poignant and exuberant finale.

Track Listing:-

1 Tired
2 Suzanne
3 Sisters Of Mercy
4 Who By Fire / As The Mist Leaves No Scar
5 Twelve O’Clock Chant
6 Everybody Knows
7 Avalanche
8 The Future
9 Chelsea Hotel #2
10 You Want It Darker
11 If It Be Your Will
12 The Asthmatic
13 Famous Blue Raincoat / Anthem
14 Show Me The Place
15 Hallelujah
16 Prayer For Messiah
17 Bird On The Wire
18 Who By Fire (Reprise) / Letter To Marianne
19 So Long Marianne

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