Recommended Jazz Album: MORE THAN YOU KNOW (Silva & Steini)

Post image for Recommended Jazz Album: MORE THAN YOU KNOW (Silva & Steini)

by Connor McCormick on September 8, 2023

in CD-DVD,Music


Peaceful, lush, lovely, luminous, unhurried, timeless, and distinct, the debut album from Icelandic duo Silva & Steini, More Than You Know is proof of the pure magic in truly inspired song interpretation. Over the course of eight spellbinding tracks, Reykjavík-based musicians Silva Thordardottir and Steingrímur Teague reimagine a lovingly curated collection of jazz standards, presenting each in a gorgeously sparse arrangement that often finds their vocals solely accompanied by the warm and dreamlike tones of a Wurlitzer keyboard. A delicate convergence of their distinct sensibilities—the gracefully understated approach to jazz singing Silva first revealed on her 2019 full-length debut, Skylark, the inventive yet elegant musicianship Steini has showcased as a member of globally beloved band Moses Hightower and as a touring/recording keyboardist for indie-folk powerhouse Of Monsters and MenMore Than You Know ultimately lends a sublimely new vitality to its selected songs (some nearly a century-old).

Released via FOUND (a U.S.-based record label dedicated to spotlighting singular voices in Icelandic music), More Than You Know draws much of its hypnotic power from the ineffable chemistry Silva and Steini discovered upon first crossing paths in 2018. After connecting through Silva’s father (a musician who performed on Björk’s 1990 jazz album, Gling-Gló), the two joined forces and soon began dreaming up their own nuanced spin on jazz standards from the ’30s and ’40s. It’s an inimitable sound that favors subtlety and space over the virtuosic soloing typically associated with jazz.

More Than You Know includes such unexpected offerings as the duo’s piano-led and sweetly unhurried update of “It Might as Well Be Spring,” a ballad composed by Rodgers and Hammerstein for the 1945 musical film State Fair. On “Try Your Wings,” both musicians bring a particularly poignant vocal performance to their subdued but soul-stirring take on a late-’50s gem from legendary jazz singer/pianist Blossom Dearie (whom Silva names as one of her most essential influences). And on “If It Was”, heightened by the heavenly bass clarinet melodies of Icelandic musician Jóel Pálsson, Silva and Steini look to more recent music history and deliver an enchanting rendition of a 2012 duet from Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter Alan Hampton and L.A.-born jazz vocalist Gretchen Parlato.

Meanwhile, the accompanying video conjures a similarly stark contrast, with its black-and-white visuals and immaculate locale. The video was directed by Icelandic visual artist Anna Maggý and was shot at the Library of Water in Stykkishólmur, Iceland, a fine art installation by Roni Horn featuring tubes of glacial water from all around Iceland.

Leave a Comment