Lene Marlin: "Playing My Game" (CD Album)
Having this CD brings back some cool memories for me. I remember having it on cassette that I bought from Woolworths in 2000 or thenabouts. I loved it then and I love it now. I remember hearing the album's first single "Sitting Down Here" on the local radio station and thinking, "Yeah, this girl's got something." I was so surprised at the time to learn that she was only fifteen years old! All the songs are written by Marlin herself, and for the most part the lyrics are deep and intelligent. This girl obviously does a lot of thinking and at the time had quite a bit of angst to get out. "Sitting Down Here" is about a girl plotting revenge on someone who has offended her; "Unforgivable Sinner" tells a tale of murder; "The Way We Are" is the story of a girl who is stalked by someone so obsessed that the stalker has begun copying every detail of her target, becoming almost a clone! The album has many of the qualities of a good paperback thriller. Strangely though, it's not that kind of moody, grungy rock that you'd expect to be the vehicle for stories like this. Instead it's smooth, soft acoustic pop-rock, but it certainly delivers the darkness if one listens carefully enough.
Few people in the UK know of Lene Marlin's albums, and fewer still know that the song "Good Girl Gone Bad" (made famous by Rihanna) was written by Lene Marlin, or that she's performed two beautiful duets: "Avalon" with Sabastian Hausmann of Dutch indie rock band Lovebugs, and "Worth It" with Norwegian Idol winner Aleksander Denstad With. And of those in the UK who do know Lene, most only know this album and have no idea about "Another Day", "Lost In A Moment" and "Twist the Truth" - all albums I'd highly recommend.
Highlights of this album:
"The Way We Are"
This song has about it a cold, scary darkness that makes the listener feel invaded and imposed upon, or at least feel concern for people who might be going through this. If you like the kind of song that gives you that uncomfortable close-to-the-bone feeling, you'll love this.
"So I See"
If you've ever been lied to, deceived and betrayed, this is your song. It brings home the reality of facing facts after you've been taken for a fool and is a great way of consoling yourself if you knew all along and couldn't prove it.
"A Place Nearby"
The album ends on a bittersweet melancholy lament, seeming to mourn the passing of someone who died slowly and in pain and promising a reunion. Some of the lyrics can be considered a comfort if you've lost someone.
In short, I think "Playing My Game" is one of the most human albums I've ever listened to, and I've heard a lot of music. There's no fairytale romances or "My Baby Left Me" blues, no "You Cheated On Me" agression and no relationship based confusion. Instead of silly up-and-down love songs or dancey/RnB slugs about sex, Lene presents a down-to-earth perspective of human dysfunctionality, which at her age was quite and achievement. Those who agree will make this part of a collection of Lene Marlin albums.