To take Aurora Aksnes at face value, with her petite build, porcelain skin and makeup-free face framed with a white bob haircut, one would never assume that she would be capable of broadcasting a voice so intoxicating and powerful. Well, it is time to reevaluate our perceptions, because 19-year-old Norwegian singer-songwriter AURORA’s debut album “All My Demons Greeting Me as a Friend” will have you seeing life with more clarity and reflection than ever before.
AURORA started playing piano at the age of six, and soon after was writing her own lyrics by the age of nine. Naturally, it did not take long for local producers to discover her talent, which quickly led to stardom and the chance to be featured in a high-profile British TV ad for John Lewis department stores. The ad featured her delicate cover of “Half the World Away” by Oasis, a track which gained immense popularity, and is featured on the deluxe version of her album. It is easily one of her catchiest tracks, emphasizing Aksnes’ vocal talent with minimal instrumentals, consisting of little more than a piano and tambourine.
AURORA is admittedly incredibly sensitive, but accepts and embraces inevitable sadness and applies it to her work as inspiration. In her single “Murder Song (5, 4, 3, 2, 1),” she writes from the perspective of a murder victim, and instead of feeling anger or sadness at the shooter, she is sympathetic, displaying her otherworldly faith in humanity. Hauntingly beautiful, she sings, “Oh, he did it all to spare me from the awful things in life that come/ And he cries and cries/ I know that he knows that he’s killing me for mercy.”
Although it may seem that she shows a unique fascination with sadness and despair, AURORA’s track “Warrior” reminds us that there is beauty in the world if only we open our eyes and minds. She says in her mini-documentary “Into the Light,” which is featured on her YouTube channel, “I find a story that inspires me in some way, often a sad one, because then I know that that person is a fighter, a warrior.”
A more upbeat track, the verses of “Warrior” crescendo to a powerful chorus as she reminds us, “Let love conquer your mind/ Warrior, warrior/ Just reach out for the light.”
Perhaps one of the most distinctive and enchanting aspects of AURORA is the innocence her voice exudes; however, there is a tinge of calm wisdom in her poetic delivery, especially in “Through the Eyes of a Child.” In this track, she longs for the naivety and dependence that accompanies childhood, singing, “The world is covered by our trails/ Scars we cover up with paint/ Watch them preach in sour lies/ I would rather see this world through/ the eyes of a child.”
While much of this album is intimate and dark, there are more pop-infused songs such as “Conqueror” and “Running with the Wolves” that are sure to have you singing along on your drive to work.
Overall, I give AURORA’s album an exemplary 9/10. The beauty of AURORA’s music is that she is not out to point fingers, but rejoices the mistakes and faults in people while recognizing that we are not defined by these shortcomings. She describes this album as “mainly about how bad experiences from the past can be good memories. It’s kind of like you come to peace with everything that’s happened, and what used to be bad memories or bad experiences. You just accept them, and you move on.”