The 34-year-old from Sankt Peter-Ording is one of the hardest-working musicians in the German-speaking world. Alternating with her band Die Heitkeit, Sommer frequently delivers solo albums and finds time for side projects such as Die Mausis. In an interview with the “Taz” she once reported that her new Berlin apartment is between the memorial plaques for Marlene Dietrich and Hildegard Knef, in the district of Schöneberg. This may be a biographical note, but at the same time it also means a localization of her art, since her deep voice has often been compared to that of “der Knef” and the delayed tempo of her performance is reminiscent of her singing technique.
Between contemplation and pain
Sommer could have taken over the certainly existing will to discipline from Dietrich. That leaves Nico, the third major colleague, who haunts the atmosphere through her work. Stella Sommer – there is no other way to put it – is very German. In a positive sense. In the 24 (!) songs of her double album she sings in English, with many pauses for reflection in storyteller mode. Autumnal, almost Christmassy, she strides through sparsely instrumented banks of fog or the choral passages of “Frozen Air”. The beats-per-minute number is hardly measurable. They are quiet, slow-paced ballads that often barely get anywhere.
Sommer can do something like Nick Cave or Bill Callahan, the male masters between contemplation and pain. There are titles like “Sorrow Had A Brother”, but they are not sadness pieces per se. In its sepia-to-anthracite tones, Sommer ultimately creates a cozy fireplace room atmosphere. It smells of pine wood and heavy red wine. All of her previous albums have veered in different directions, but were “unmistakably summer”. In this romantic cycle you could say that she has found herself. But kitchen psychology can get out of here. It is simply impressively well done.
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