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February 05, 2009

Denmark's Tina Dico: We're Not in ABBAland Anymore

by John Oseid

Your knowledge of Danish musicians begins and ends with Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich, doesn't it? Mine did until the gorgeous Jutland native Tina Dico schooled me on what her generation of Scandinavian singer-songwriters are up to. (I love me some ABBA, but Dico's English lyrical dexterity took me a good long way beyond "Dancing Queen.") The songs on her beautifully packaged triple EP set, A Beginning, A Detour, An Open Ending, are filled with the anguish, consternation, and joy of love. She is at once enigmatic and confessional, reticent and unabashed. She knows when to punch up her lovely alto in the right places, and she delivers a mature reckoning with life.

The mostly acoustic first disc, A Beginning, is the darkest of the three. It's a melancholy start, but it flows without a shred of the maudlin. Dico threads a steady, lovely harmonium throughout disc two, A Detour, and at times she sounds a little country, a little bluesy, and even a little Leonard Cohen-y. (She calls the songs' cautionary stories her "private playgrounds.") The disc's spare, abstruse song "No Time to Sleep" feels like the coda to a TV drama--and what do you know, my friend Wikipedia tells me it was heard on Grey's Anatomy. Here she is singing it on a Danish morning show.

The first cut of the final disc, "A New Situation," has indie hit written all over it. Then, on "Stains" (video above), Dico shows no remorse for her lies: "It's a cold heart that did what I did; should be so hard to live with it; should be sorry, but I feel no regret." Next time you travel, set your iPod to Dico's "Security Check," a boppy, brassy tune about an ambiguous airport farewell.

More music:
* In March, Dico comes to the US, working her way west to east. Stops include Hollywood's Roxy Theatre on March 8; Austin's prestigious South by Southwest festival on the 20th; and a March 24 show at the Highline Ballroom in NYC. The full schedule is on her MySpace page.
* Last summer Dico played Roskilde, one of Europe's top mega festivals. For a measure of her popularity back home, watch the crowd sing along with teenage gusto. Here's the third of four Roskilde clips, in which she displays an electric rock side to her persona.
* Dico's fine 2007 album Count to Ten features a single "On the Run," the video for which she shot traipsing through Joshua Tree. Somebody tell that girl to get sensible shoes.

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