Sea Lion at The Islington
Sidling onto the stage, a curtain of dark hair obscuring her face, Swedish songstress Sea Lion cannot be said to cut an imposing figure. Small and slender in a loose shirt and Converse trainers, guitar clutched before her, she calls to mind a pixie-ish Kurt Cobain. Sea Lion’s music and stage presence, however, could not be further from the godfather of grunge.
Dreamy soundscapes wrought by jangly guitar riffs fill the snug live space of the Islington and Sea Lion – real name Linn Osterberg – casts her ethereal vocals out across the crowd.
There are a couple of flat notes within the opening song, likely down to nerves, but otherwise Osterberg’s haunting vocals are hypnotic and flawless. The nerves cannot have been helped by a set list that appeared to have gone AWOL, leaving the Swede to improvise on song progression and jokingly begging the crowd to return it. But while the disappearance of the set list cannot have been ideal for a singer performing her debut London headliner, Sea Lion carried it well, her sweet and affable interaction with the audience if not glossily segwaying between tunes, at least keeping the crowd on side.
While Osterberg’s high, quiet vocals and delicate, minimalist music can at first be disconcerting, and will not be to everybody’s taste, it’s one that those who do embrace it will appreciate. There’s more to the music than might first meet the ear. Often obscured through breathy delivery and reverb guitar, Sea Lion’s lyrics are as delicate and elegant as her voice. Room, the most recent single, is an entrancing, reflective piece that does not feel anywhere near four minutes long. Sanna’s Song is possibly the highlight of the set. Recounting a tale of female friendship, Sanna’s Song is a gorgeous homage to another woman that weaves with mesmerising simplicity through the red tinged room.
At present there are a brace of EPs so the set is short, culminating with a cover, but there is an album on the way, which the good natured Osterberg should be plugging come September – hopefully, for her own sake, with a set list this time.
Photos: Andrei Grosu
For further information about Sea Lion and future events visit here.
Watch the video for Room here: