When is a cover song better than the original? Only you can decide. This week Oh Land takes on Fleet Foxes’ “White Winter Hymnal.” MAGNET’s Ryan Burleson pulls the pin. Take cover!
Denmark’s Nanna Øland Fabricius (a.k.a. Oh Land) is about to explode. That is to say she, as Oh Land, is right where Fleet Foxes were in early 2008 just before the Sun Giant EP arrived in all its throwback, baroque-folk glory. Shortly after, Fleet Foxes’ eponymous debut was released to ubiquitous acclaim around the world, but not before memorable sets at South By Southwest and Sasquatch cemented the validity of their growing myth on their own accord.
Frabricius has followed a similar, snappy path to the public’s awareness. Raised by musician parents—a trait shared with leading Fox Robin Pecknold—she found her own voice around age 18 when, after a back accident derailed her burgeoning career as a ballerina, she enrolled in Denmark’s University of Electronic Composition. It didn’t take long, however, before her desire to write and record trumped her interest in the more academic side of her studies. The rest is history: After opening for her cousin’s band with a visual-heavy, choreographed production that exceeded all expectations of what an opening set should be, she landed a record deal with a Denmark label and released her debut, Fauna. Subsequently, a boisterous SXSW set a year later impressed the folks at Epic, a relationship that revealed its first fruits last week with the release of Oh Land’s eponymous EP.
To be sure, Pecknold never wanted to be a ballerina. (At least the public is not aware of such a desire.) But the shared trajectory of his beloved Fleet Foxes and Oh Land cannot be denied. Oh Land’s success, I predict, will naturally be in that coveted crossover realm where Katy Perry meets Robyn, a world that seems so distant from the pastoral climes inhabited by the Foxes. Nonetheless, both acts prove that, when existent in its purest form, the cream never takes very long to rise to the top.
Cast your vote wisely.