Snorri Helgason is a strange beast. At once a Reykjavík hipster, and at the same time making music that could be seen as deeply unfashionable, he insists on making Americana tinged folk/country that sounds sublime, and belies his young age.
It’s a slow start for an album, but the opening track sounds like its fresh out of Nashville, complete with pedal steel and harmonica, ‘Berlin’ is equally lovely, whilst ‘Summer is Almost Gone’ sounds like Jack Johnson before he sold his soul to the corporate devil.
The secret of this album is Sigurlaug Gísladóttir, aka Mr. Silla and of the collective Múm, Snorri’s usual partner in crime and a crucial element of his touring band. She adds her soft vocals to almost every song here and is solo on the wistful ‘Poor Mum’ and the surprising ‘It’s Over’. She is hugely talented—surely it’s time for her own solo effort? Anyway, in harmony with Snorri here, she is a force to be reckoned with, especially on the standout ‘The Morning is the Loving Hour.’
Snorri has matured since the days of Sprengjuhöllin; mostly this is a good thing. It means that Autumn Skies rings true with the experience of a man who knows exactly what works and what is needed to make this album an international success. Occasionally though, I wish he’d just go for it and break into something like ‘99 songs’.
Overall, Autumn Skies is a melancholic, gentle affair, that sometimes lacks the immediacy of its predecessor, Winter Sun. It’s a delight though, and is suitably titled—it does have the feeling of summer bleeding away into autumn. I think it’s probably best consumed with a hot chocolate whilst watching the leaves turn from green to red.