The Parsonage Melodies by Hasse Poulsen and Henrik Simonsen

The Parsonage Melodies is a dream of Scandinavia. A dream of expanses limited only by the sky, the mountains and the sea dotted with scattered inhabitants. Of the mist on a forest lake at the first rays of sunlight. Of the old half-timbered farmhouses and thatched roofs that at the edge of the forests slump dangerously towards the fields.

The Parsonage Melodies is a musician’s dream of capturing the sound of wood and fingers on the strings of an upright bass and a guitar. This is melodies from the soil of the collective imagination of Scandinavia. The dream of becoming part of the eternal tradition of village troubadours, field labourers and ocean adventurers.

This is an album where contemporary Scandinavian jazz and folk tunes come together in the hands of two musicians who know each other well. In the press release pack that I received there is much mention of quiet, thoughtfulness, church and cemeteries, and dance. This is a reflective, meditative album full of pastoral, lyrical melodies and minor keys. This is a quiet listen of beautiful tunes and spacious notation, something to get lost in.

Cover photo by Denis Rouvre

I did enjoy this album, particularly the blues styling on track three, ‘Lunch at the Inn’, but overall felt that it was a touch too relaxed, that I was left with too much time to think and that my thoughts took me away from the music and the two, obviously, talented musicians who perform it.

There are quite a number of reflective albums, released post pandemic, that are beautifully written and performed but lack that variation in tempo and energy to hold the listener’s attention for the album’s (in this instance) twelve tracks. At the end of the day, it is asking a lot of two string instruments to bring enough tonal colour and texture to capture the feel of the Scandinavian landscape and its people – but that is only my opinion, you may feel differently after you have heard The Parsonage Melodies.

Musicians: Hasse Poulson – guitar; Henrik Simonsen – double bass.

Tracklist: 1. Song from Northern Zealand. 2. Summer Dance (on the Servants’ Meadow). 3. Lunch at the Inn. 4. The Storyteller. 5. In the Small Hours. 6. Midsummer Song at Furesøen. 7. The Story of Hollow Road. 8. Among Friends. 9. Thoughts Amongst the Birch Trees. 10. The Fox and the Deer. 11. A Meeting in the Cemetery. 12. The Quiet Confirmand.

All compositions are by Hasse Poulsen.

The Parsonage Melodies is released on the Das Kapital Records label.

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