"White Shade" - Lukestar
Be aware, to begin with, that this is a man singing. I will quickly admit that I do not usually warm to a male voice that sounds this much like a female voice, but this has only to do with the fact that in my experience, singers with unusual voices tend to over-rely on the basic aural gimmick and therefore under-deliver on the song. Hell, I could listen to a male voice that sounds like a female hyena if the song is good enough.
In "White Shade," lead man Truls Heggero, of the Oslo-based quartet Lukestar, has a worthy piece of material to work with, featuring first and foremost that European pop band tendency to sneak up a bit on the hook, and to manage in general to make a three-minute song seem expansive and interesting. The song has three distinctive sections: the upbeat verse, with Heggero's voice in such a high range that he can make that five-interval downward leap and still sound like a soprano on the lower note; the meandering bridge, which arrives unexpectedly after a forceful instrumental interlude, and has the air of some hidden section of a lost prog-rock classic (but much shorter!), complete with organ flourishes; and then, wow, a swift and appealing chorus, with an assured, wide-ranging melody that brings Heggero so much further down in his range that a-ha, it's clearly a man singing after all. The song goes through the three sections again but with an alteration at the end of the verse, just to see if you're paying attention (around 1:42); when the chorus comes back it seems both more appealing and shorter than ever--wait! sing that again! you want to say. Good news--he does, and then, without fuss, the song is over.
"White Shade" is a song from Lake Toba, Lukestar's second CD, which came out in Norway early this year, and was released in the U.S. last month on Flameshovel Records. Lake Toba, I feel compelled to inform you, is the largest volcanic lake in the world (it's on the Indonesian island of Sumatra); an enormous eruption there 75,000 years ago changed the Earth's climate and apparently wiped out a lot of the human population on earth at the time. Just to keep things in perspective.