Anyone who was inspired by the 1988 success of the Sugarcubes to think cold climes breed icy music can reconsider. Norway's Bel Canto, a trio that plays electrified folk music in a style as calming as a cruise down a moonlit fjord, is nothing if not warm.
Lead vocalist Anneli Marian Drecker, who sings in English and Spanish, makes just about every song into a lullaby. Her bandmates provide new age-style synthesizer effects to create music reminiscent of the 1970s band Renaissance. Some of the lyrics on Birds of Passage, Bel Canto's first U.S. release, stumble into spiritual gobble-dygook—about abstract quests, mermaids and minotaurs—but that never ruins the mood. Bel Canto seems intent on sending a warm, soothing stream of music down from the chilly north. (Nettwerk/IRS)