Hanne Hukkleberg is Norwegian singer/songwriter who has crafted a stunningly original debut album in the form of Little Things. Hukkleberg is more than just a great name that you want to say out aloud, she has a style that's almost impossible to describe with elements of folk, jazz, bucolic pop, and impossibly, Dixieland, merged together in way that makes you believe these disparate elements somehow belong together. Like a starlit journey into a children's book kind of music hall Hukkleberg takes the listener places they never imagined they would ever go, or that they even knew existed.
In this incredibly textured and rich work Hukkleberg's spooky doll voice is pushed centre stage holding court with her eclectic compositions. Instruments include of a mix of usually neglected acoustic and percussion (Hawaiian guitar, flute, glockenspeil, castanets) and electronic elements. Then there's the even less conventional sounds such as whistling, milk bottles, bicycle spokes and water - none of which seem out of place in this sparse and twinkling universe of nursery rhymes for gothic Lolitas. Mixing so many different and let's face it, often undesirable elements (Dixieland? I rest my case) could have been a hideous mess, but it the fabled two years of painstaking arrangement shows and what's more, it works really well. Hukkleberg does far more than simply pull all this exotica together - Little Things simply glistens.
To draw comparisons, the obvious is a certain Icelandic princess - which is a grand compliment in itself - but fans of Japanese singers such as Chara and whisper queen Kahimi Karie might also detect a kinship (and her backing vocals are pure Stereolab). There's also a smidge of Mūm in her style, but Hukkleberg creates a world that is even more delicate, more stellar and more unreal. In this musically oversaturated world I can't say this very often, but I guarantee you're never heard anything quite like it. If there's a single on this record it would have to be the seemingly shambolic and quaintly jazzy True Love, however singling out tracks is somewhat pointless, this is a collection that needs to be heard as a whole. Actually, this is a collection that needs to be heard full stop. A gem.