Listen to “Older” below and order Wishlist, out next week, now!
Lina Tullgren, the latest Captured Tracks’ signee, is a Maine born songwriter with an eye and an ear for darkness. And the light. Sometimes it’s quiet, but sometimes it’s loud. When you grow up in the trenches of classical music and then, down the line, you learn about traditional fiddle music and old work songs, you can get burnt out on everything after a while. So, then you buy an electric guitar and start to write songs. If you aren’t trying to be anything or anyone in particular; the songs that result are in their own way, raw, sincere and unique.
This signing sees a re-release of Lina’s cassette Wishlist, an EP that was recorded in October 2015 with childhood musical partner, Ty Ueda. Two years after Lina wrote its opening track, a slow burner rock ballad, “Watchdog,” the pair got together and recorded five tracks over the course of a few days on Ty’s Tascam 388 at his house in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts. They make a good team: with Ty being a manic perfectionist and Lina something like the opposite of a perfectionist. Because fuck being perfect. They can agree on a love of tape wobble and the integrity of songs that are, at a glance, strangely structured and honest. They’re atmospheric and sad, but they’re also hopeful. With songs that are never overtly planned, but instead felt and written in a stream of consciousness whenever the mood strikes. It was important to capture the pure energy and feeling of songs that can hit you where you feel, but you might not know it right at that moment. Like when you cry, but you don’t know why you’re crying. Or, when you smile and someone comes up to you and remarks at your grin and you didn’t even know you were grinning. Like that.
In the tight-knit seaside community of southern Maine and seacoast New Hampshire, Lina grew up surrounded by musicians, artists and actors. They all, in their way, encouraged her to develop a voice that was singular, while always educating her about Brian Eno and Nirvana or Maurice Ravel and Gustav Mahler. You learn to hold your own when all of your parents’ friends are all doing exactly what you want to do when you grow up. Why would you want to be an astronaut or a college professor or a doctor? It was within this erratic upbringing that she developed her obsessive ear for music, a sponge that hadn’t yet found her outlet for the songs she wanted to sing.
Wishlist is a succinct, enigmatic showcase of change and growth from a new voice. Lina is obsessively looking for that thing we learn is called “home:” growing up and staring inward at herself. She sees her mistakes, her flaws and obsessions, as opportunities for growth, for forgiveness. You can be heartbroken and still be okay.