Norwegian singer-songwriter Malin Pettersen's new EP Alonesome, out Oct. 11 and premiering exclusively on Billboard one day early today (Oct. 10), is a preview before the full album is released next year.
A gentle collection featuring Pettersen solo, just voice and acoustic guitar, is a follow-up to 2018's References Pt. 1, her lauded, award-winning solo debut album after a 12-year tenure in the band Lucky Lips. "I was originally thinking [Alonesome] would be like a project between albums that people could listen to if they're into calm music," Pettersen tells Billboard. "It keeps my name out there, for some incredible reason."
Pettersen was inspired to make the EP after attending a concert by folk singer Andrew Combs. "It was just him and another guitarist," Pettersen recalls, "and I was like, 'Oh, I need to write some material that can stand by itself, just me and my voice.’ So I wrote the songs and impulsively asked the guy I work with in the studio here [Marcus Forsgren, in Oslo] if he had some time in December and he said, 'Sure, come next week.' So I brought the microphone I love and recorded all the songs through it and one room mic.
"I wanted it to be about the music and not the wrapping," Pettersen continues, "just the vocal and the lyric and bring it back to the source of what we're doing."
Writing the six songs as solo acoustic pieces proved to be challenging as well. "I had to think about what could capture someone when you don’t have harmonies or other instruments to grab the attention or pull the song in different directions," Pettersen explains. "I tried to bring the melodies to places where I felt like they captured some sort of emotion and make the listener feel things more than maybe think about things."
Pettersen says much of Alonesome is written from the perspective of where she is now — happy with her solo career, two children and a fiancé. But some of the songs also "do a little time traveling, back to where I was before," while a song like "Pause" frets a bit about losing the good things she has now.
"I didn’t' polish it too much at all," she says. "It's just my voice and my guitar, nothing else. I'm happy that I went for that instead of being twisted into doing something more perfect. The guitar on 'Pause' is a little pitchy, but I went with that because I still managed to get across what I wanted to say."
Pettersen will be playing solo shows in Norway as well as supporting Robert Ellis on some shows in Scandina this fall. Mostly, though, she's gearing up for the 2020 release of her next album, which she recorded in Nashville at with Aaron Goodrich, Ryan A. Keith and Misa Arriaga at their Music City USA studio. The as-yet-untitled set, currently being mixed, is due out next fall and Pettersen promises, takes her burgeoning solo career in yet another direction.
"It's been a different process for me," she says. "First working with one band for 12 years and then working with other people that I know, and then going from that to sitting on an airplane all by myself going to meet these people I only met once before, just hoping that it would turn out to be something. And now I'm so happy that it has. I can't wait until it's time for this to come out."
Listen to Pettersen’s Alonesome below.