Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
Just prior to Ida Maria arriving at our Rock Island studio earlier this month, a typical Midwestern summer storm raged itself into existence and ripped out a lashing, a torrential downpour that lasted all of a half an hour but knocked people out of their precious power and left many hapless motorists floating in a sea of sewer water in the middle of intersections. Maria, the Norwegian rock and roller who just recently made a successful and riotous round of dates through the continental United States, sat in her bus outside, waiting out the shower, watching the day turn from what it started out as to night and then back to day again, with the heat and humidity of a kiln cooking back up to grilling levels. How these storms crop up around here is nothing fantastical, just normalcy for those of us who sometimes get a little giddy when there are severe thunderstorm warnings and even more so when the meteorologists interrupt programming to inform us that all of the pitch blackness - what we think must be what it looks like in the belly of Satan's whales - coming in from the western counties is actually something fierce, something with teeth and fire. It's bringing with it whipping winds and confirmed tornadoes, nasty little fuckers that are liable to rip our roofs off and throw fence posts and pitchforks straight through healthy, standing trees. Our days go from peaceful calm to disastrous calamity, frightening forces of nature in a shorter amount of time than it takes to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. We yearn for the chances to see a tornado spring out of a heap of angry air and start tearing across the countryside. We don't wish for destruction and death, just a chance to witness this kind of intensity firsthand at least one time in our lives. Ida Maria is one of the closest examples of this desire that we've come across. She is turbulent and beautiful all at the same time, primed to churn up those terrible winds and just start exploding on top of things. She'll just let loose, but it's not just all build up and release or building up just in order to release. It's a very plausible disturbance. It's very explainable, almost like these ferocious storms that sometimes leave people vexed about what they did that God found so terribly wrong. She is a woman with the simplest demands of her life - tenderness and the pursuit of love that doesn't spit back at you or laugh very hard as it deserts - that always get strewn and shipwrecked on the rocks. She can't help but throw herself into the cyclical malfunctions and all of the nasty trappings that come with such pursuits. It gives her the freedom and the right to really question "real love," the kind that you have to put in quotation markings because it's the only way you'd feel comfortable touching what typically turns out to be an imposter. She explores this notion of "real love" from countless angles and with the same kind of fed up energy that turns her manic and hoarse at times. She sings, "I called you up to tell you that I love you/You only call me when you're drunk," mid-way through the impressive debut, "Fortress Round My Heart," and she suggests elsewhere that she's treated like cold, cold kisses. And if that just isn't a damn shame for someone who's looking for the real stuff with every fiber that she's got in her. She's deserving of something more and her songs speak so directly to women and men who just can't get it figured out, who when they seem to think that they've got some smooth sailing ahead are going to see those dark as hell clouds work themselves into fits in the west and come rumbling through like something missing its breaks and its manners, leveling everything that it finds in its path.
Ida Maria Official Site