- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 6, 2006

A-ha’s “Take on Me” may be one of the catchiest and most enduring pieces of ‘80s synth pop (not to mention one of the era’s coolest music videos), but singer-songwriter Teitur claims there’s a foreigner’s faux pas concealed in its English lyrics; According to this fellow Scandinavian, the Norwegian band directly translated an expression meaning “touch me” from their native tongue, and ended up crafting a song that fans hailed but never fully grasped.

Having grown up on the Faroe Islands — an archipelago in northern Europe officially belonging to Denmark, where English is not the second but third language — Teitur is wary of making similar mistakes.

“I think that I’ve struggled a lot with writing,” he explains, “because for me, it was always important to get it right.” He says that after living in Copenhagen for years, he even opted to relocate his home base to London recently, “to be closer to the language.” His confession comes as a bit of a surprise, given that his lyrics are both fluid and poetic, perfectly rhymed and laced with lovely images and metaphors.

In fact, his Rupert Hine-produced (Mr. Hine was among the producers on Tina Turner’s 1984 Grammy-winning “Private Dancer” ) major label debut, 2003’s “Poetry & Aeroplanes,” mesmerized American troubadour John Mayer — so much, in fact, that Mr. Mayer became one of its most vocal supporters. (With its earnest, mostly acoustic ballads about long-distance love and small-town girls, the disc isn’t all that distant from Mr. Mayer’s work.)

“I’d never met [John Mayer] before he started talking about my music,” Teitur says. “He started mentioning me in interviews, and then invited me to come tour with him. It was just after ‘Poetry’ had come out. He was just very supportive. It was very generous of him.”

After playing hundreds of dates both on his own as well as opening for Mr. Mayer and dazzling fans with live renditions of his sweeping pop-folk ballads (such as “I Was Just Thinking” and “Sleeping with the Lights On”), Teitur returned to the studio, prepared to let his hair down a bit more.

“I was very conscious that the first record should be a safe record,” he recalls, “but this time, it was my responsibility to take charge.”

Unfortunately, he couldn’t wrest the kind of creative control he wanted from his record label, Universal, and eventually started his own imprint in order to release his follow-up, “Stay Under the Stars.” The album, produced by Martin Terefe (who has worked with singer-songwriter KT Tunstall), finds Teitur flexing in new directions, both vocally and sonically. In some tracks, his voice teeters on its outer boundaries, and, musically, he incorporates darker strains and bluesier rhythms — coupled with a version of Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Great Balls of Fire” that shows true artistic ingenuity.

As a vote of confidence on his business gamble, the disc debuted this fall at No. 9 on the Danish charts and continues to gain popularity and critical acclaim on these shores .

“I think I am a different person as an artist now than from the first record,” Teitur says. “I had not toured before and had not really been a performing musician. I had only written.”

Given that, Teitur says he literally has hundreds of songs that have never been released — in large part due to his unique recording process of creating and recording 10 songs at a time, then repeating the process until he has enough quality material for a full record.

Because of his extensive archives, he soon plans to present a new feature on his Web site— where, each week, fans can stream one new, previously unreleased track. In the meantime, Washingtonians can catch him performing at Jammin’ Java tonight. The show, featuring openers Luke Brindley and Judd and Maggie, begins at 8.

The outer Lupe

The title of rapper Lupe Fiasco’s debut album, “Food & Liquor,” sure sounds like a takeoff on Ludacris’ 2003 hit “Chicken-N-Beer.” But inside the lyrical world of this 25-year-old Muslim, you’ll find no extensive references to ‘40s and offensive terms for women — unless, of course he’s making a point about what distinguishes him from all the other MCs out there.

“The call me Lupe, I’ll be ya’ new day,” the Chicago native raps on a track called “Gotcha” — and industry heavy hitters (including Kanye West and Jay-Z) already have rallied in support of this dawning. Audiences saw the light this summer, with the artist’s smash skateboarding single, “Kick, Push.” With religion, street cred and big-name backing on his side, this shredder is one to watch. Catch him at his last area performance Sunday night at Sonar in Baltimore. The show begins at 8.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide