After many listens over the past couple of months, the new Frida Hyvönen record Silence Is Wild is proving to be one of my favorites of 2008 – gorgeous songs with powerfully evocative and so human lyrics, all arranged beautifully. Hyvönen performed many of the new songs and a few old ones in a startling little concert Monday night (Nov. 3) at Chicago’s Lakeshore Theater… in front of a disappointingly small audience, maybe 20 people spread out across the auditorium like a few stalwart worshippers turning out for a midnight service. Maybe scheduling a show at 10:30 p.m. on a Monday night isn’t such a hot idea, or maybe Hyvönen just needs to get more press and air play. Whatever the case, it turned out to be one of those wonderfully intimate shows that seem like a private performance by a world-class artist.
Silence Is Wild features lush arrangements on many tracks, but Hyvönen played solo on a baby grand at the Lakeshore – and as much as I like all those strings and backup vocals on the record, she proved that she can play fully realized renditions of those songs all by herself. It seems as if her piano playing has grown more sophisticated and richer since she made her debut in 2005. And her vocals were completely sublime. She began a few songs by sounding out the opening note – getting in tune with the piano, and revealing a little bit of her craft in the process. She seemed to slip very easily into whatever melody was before her. Hyvönen is also quite beautiful and a charming presence on the stage, making some witty comments and playfully goofing around, such as when she performed the “parlor trick” of moving her head in a circle around the microphone stand.
Chicago singer Ami Saraiya opened the show with a nice set of her sensitive folk rock, including a few songs on accordion.