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Hafdis Huld Hafdis Huld
Album: Dare To Dream Small
Label: Red Grape
Tracks: 12
Website: http://www.hafdishuld.com

A celebration of the little things in life that maybe aren't quite as insignificant as some might think - stuff like a beautiful sunset, nipping out for a bop, the comfort of a close one's old clothes - this instant charmer of an album balances a pop heart with a rootsy delivery.

Probably still best known from her four years as singer with Icelandic techno outfit GusGus, Hafdis Huld went on to co-write singles with FC Kahuna, work with dance producers Tom Middleton and Ewan Pearson and study at the London Centre of Contemporary Music.

Since branching out on her own though she has broken down the processed beats in favour of wholefood rhythms and co-writing with purveyors of 'real' songs like Boo Hewerdine and fellow reconstituted electronic music adventurers Jim Abbiss and Pascal Gabriel.

Dare To Dream Small opens with a breezy slice of smile-inducing acoustic pop Summer Inside (a co-write with Kirsty's MacColl's half brother Calum), which gives way to opening single Take Me Dancing, the true story of an Icelandic girl in the 1950s who would walk for six hours over a glacier just to dance with other young folks. It's every bit as joyous as that story suggests and very capably sets the tone for the album as a whole.

Boo Hewerdine weighs in with a couple of telling contributions - the droll Underdog and the want-less anthem Dream Small - as does Nik Kershaw (get over it!) on the evocative Fineshade Forest and By the Road.

In fact, there's not a lot not to like on this thoroughly pleasant album, probably to the extent that I can't help wondering what would have happened if it had taken more chances with the sound. I'm splitting hairs to say so, but I could have done with something to jolt things out of the comfortably 'nice' groove into which the record settles rather too readily.

Nick Churchill
www.nickchurchill.org.uk