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Amanda Bergman returns with the breezy and polished Your Hand Forever Checking On My Fever

"Your Hand Forever Checking On My Fever"

Release date: 07 June 2024
Amanda Bergman Your Hand cover Humphries
07 June 2024, 17:00 Written by Janne Oinonen

Not that long ago, a certain kind of slick and glossy 80s AOR sound exemplified by, say, Fleetwood Mac’s 1987 smash Tango In The Night would have been considered the height of uncool.

Since then, it’s become not only acceptable but also somewhat, well, hip: Swedish singer/songwriter Amanda Bergman’s long-awaited second solo album follows The Weather Station’s 2021 masterpiece Ignorance (a definite musical kindred spirit) and others in tapping into breezily polished yet soulful templates from the era when mainstream pop was permeated by shoulder pads, perms and gated drums.

To describe Your Hand Forever Checking On My Fever as some sort of a knowing 80s pastiche would do a huge disservice to the distinctive flavour and arresting warmth of Bergman’s songwriting and presentation. Activities as part of Swedish supergroup Amason (also starring Dungen’s Gustav Ejstes) aside, this is Bergman’s first album since 2016’s Docks. Bereavement, relocating to the Swedish countryside (the album was recorded in a studio on the grounds of the active farm where Bergman now resides with her partner), becoming a parent twice over: the album’s nine uniformly strong tracks reflect the major life events that have led to an extensive break from the heavy lifting involved in writing and recording as a solo artist.

Self-doubt, shifting perspectives and trying to find stable footing amidst changing circumstances: many of the themes of Your Hand Forever Checking On My Fever are undoubtedly troubled, but although the album is permeated by a certain kind of distinctly Nordic melancholy, the record overall feels like a positive offering. The gently soaring opener “Wild Geese, Wild Love” sets the tone perfectly, achieving instant lift off to float weightlessly above the ground, the music’s effortless glide contrasting compellingly with the depth of the lyrics, which could be read as musings on a relationship but are in fact triggered by Bergman’s experiences of watching someone close to her gradually fade away from a long illness. “I Love Him Til I Love Him Right” is the album’s most pointed nod towards the smoothly expressed deep emotions of prime Fleetwood Mac, Christine McVie especially, while “Poor Symmetry” and “Thought I Didn’t Wake You Up” excel in bruised, slow-burn piano-led balladry. One of the hallmarks of lazy music writing is to instantly compare any female songwriter to Joni Mitchell, but it’s difficult to avoid being reminded of the turbulent pulses of Hejira when taking in “Day 2000 Awake”, a restless, throbbing salute to the joys and challenges (notably persistent lack of uninterrupted sleep) of being a new parent.

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