Underappreciated Albums: Ida Maria, Fortress ‘Round My Heart

This is one of those albums that you can listen to on repeat without knowing it. When it ends, you feel like it was too soon, and throwing it on for the second time is as satisfying as you hope it’ll be.

Ida Maria

2009 was the original release date, but I didn’t hear my first song from Fortess ‘Round My Heart until about 2011. It all started with a little song called “I Like You So Much Better When You’re Naked” and if that’s not enough to sell you, take your hair down and have yourself a listen:

If you’ve been waiting for a truly rocking band with a truly awesome rock band with some true chick flair, let me introduce you to Ida Maria.

Ida Maria is fronted by a punk rock Janis Joplin called, surprisingly, Ida Maria Siversten. She hails from Nesna, Norway, where she picked up guitar as a child and performed concerts by age 14. She escaped her 2,000 population village and fled to Sweden, where she connected with Stefan Tornby, Olle Lundin, and Johannes Lindberg to create the genre-blending band, Ida Maria.

Ida Maria

I have an emerging guilty pleasure for heartbreak-driven albums, and Fortress ‘Round My Heart is one for the books. Siversten’s voice sounds like it’s been showered in Lucky Strike and Jack Daniels, and every high note sounds the perfect amount of strained, punctuating the histrionic outpour of occasionally reflective, occasionally passive aggressive, and occasionally just aggressive lyrics.

Ida Maria

The second song that got stuck in my head was basically a narrative of my messy, tangled life at the time. Put this on when you’ve bomb a test, get a parking ticket, or get dumped on the second date. Ida Maria’s husky, scream-primed voice is used to its full capacity mixing emotionally-fueled outbursts with catchy, repetitive verses mixed in. “Oh My God” (appropriately named) is an upwards-motion rock song that you can infinitely facepalm to.

You don’t have it all together and you have no idea why people think you do? This song is your new anthem.

Oh my god/
Oh, you think I’m in control, oh my god/
Oh, you think it’s all for fun, oh my god/
Oh, you think I’m in control, oh my god/
Oh, you think it’s all for fun, is this fun for you?/

Ida Maria’s range isn’t limited to songs you can whip your hair to. The album itself has a messy, beautiful life vibe to it, and that continues right over into the ballad portion of Fortress ‘Round My Heart. “Keep Me Warm” is a slow motion ode to the vices that keep us company and the coffee and cigarettes that do, in fact, keep us warm. True to her rock roots, an emotionally-charged guitar solo provides the satisfying crest of the song’s floaty drone.

Pour myself a cup of coffee for sober nights/
‘Cause nicotine and caffeine are my friends in this fight/

And you, you keep me warm/
You, you keep me warm/
All your cigarettes and cup of coffee/
Keeps me warm/

Her knack for catchy hooks and repetitive choruses is what fills my already swollen heart with love for Ida Maria. She blends incredibly honest lyrics about rejection, heartbreak and loss with the repetition that echoes the swirling thoughts encountered during obstacles of the heart.

I woke up this morning with “Forgive Me” buzzing in my head, the elongated words and crashing percussion do a perfect job of illustrating the extreme roller coaster of a deteriorating relationship. Again, her elongated choruses have me pulling for her to go even longer on her “forgive me”s.

Ida Maria

The most gentle song on the album is the one I’m least familiar with. In the interest of this post, I listened to it 10 times in a row, and now I truly believe it’s one of the best, most optimistic songs about loss. “Optimism and levity during heartbreak” is becoming an obvious theme across Fortress ‘Round My Heart.

The slow, pulsing waltz of “In The End” is a perfect cradle for this track about reuniting with someone you’ve lost after it’s all over, as I imagine we all get a slow waltz introduction to the afterlife. Siversten takes quite well to shaky, near-tears wobble, and her acoustic guitar helps to level out the slightly tremorous nature of her lyrics.

Days and months and years/
And cities, people, love, and fear/
May God revel, she’s out drinkin’/
Always be you near/

I hope we meet in the end/
With wrinkles like the divas/
And we’ll dance again and again/
In the end/
In the end/

“Queen of the World” is here to remind you at this moment, we’re the youngest we’re ever going to be.

I’m the queen of the world, I bump into things/
I spin around in circles and I am singin’/
And I’m singin’, and I’m singin’/
Why can’t I stay like this, dear god
Oh let me be young/ 
Let me please let me stay like this/

Where to find Ida Maria

Ida Maria is currently trying to get a song on the radio so they can tour (check her most recent release, Accidental Happiness!), but in the meantime, you can find their albums, including Fortress ‘Round My Heart on both Spotify and all that plus special releases on Rdio.

Ida Maria

Buy Fortress ‘Round My Heart for $7.97 for a CD, or $6.99 for MP3 on Amazon

You can also follow Ida Maria on social media:

Probably watching Netflix.

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