Free and legal MP3: Lay Low (twangy Icelandic toe-tapper)

“By and By” – Lay Low

Doing musical business as Lay Low, Icelandic singer/songwriter Lovísa Elísabet Sigrúnardóttir combines a genuine feel for–of all things–classic country and western with the ability, consistently shared by musicians in her home country, to tap into something marvelous and otherworldly.

On the surface, yes, the song is an upbeat, twangy little thing, but me, I am for some reason paying extra attention to how Lovísa meanders away from the regimen of the sprightly beat that appears at first to define the song. In the verses, only the first two words of each line are firmly on the beat; by the end of the verse, she willfully ignores the momentum of the song, her voice all but purring with an unusual blend of intimacy and puckishness. The chorus, meanwhile, sounds like a return to alignment (0:59) but for the life of me even when the melody appears to be in lockstep with the beat I swear she sounds like she’s laying off ever so slightly. And then soon enough (1:04) she lets it go entirely. Listen to how she manages the transition between the words “before” and “I”; I cannot describe it. And behind her it’s all just perky country playing, as if nothing is awry, as if it’s maybe just a big guy in a cowboy hat who’s on stage and we’re group-imagining this (marvelous, otherworldly) Nordic visitation.

“By and By” will be found on Lay Low’s second album, Farewell Good Night’s Sleep, due out in March on Lovísa’s own Loo label.