story / Meghan L. O’Connor
photographs / Shervin Lainez
When one first witnesses Swedish native Theresa Andersson wooing a crowd of adoring fans (for me, this first moment was in the perfect setting, an intimate club in Sweden with some of her most loyal fans), one cannot help being struck dumb by her presence. As a one-woman act, Andersson not only plays every instrument from drums to violin to guitar, but she plays them at once. Her act involves recording each instrument as she plays and laying them over one another as she sings, often layering recordings of her voice as well. Andersson’s stage presence however, adds an altogether effortless aura to every step of the process. Andersson’s stage layout is simple; she stands barefoot on a small white shag rug on stage, surrounded by dozens of pedals and various instruments. A Smokey Johnson vinyl displays itself lovingly to her left. She converses with her audience (at the Swedish concert, in soft-spoken Swedish) then begins to pound a beat. The simple layout is soon contrasted with her complicated technique, as her feet tap on a wooden step. Adding to the tap, she begins a tune on the violin, then quickly blends the tune into open-lunged shouts.
Before the audience knows, the violin is switched to an acoustic guitar riff, then a beat on the drums. Every instrument is paired with an irrepressible energy pouring from her voice, her motions, and her constant smile. “New Orleans makes me sing,” she croons, and the soul influence of the city is palpable in her jazzy style. Raised in Sweden but moving to New Orleans at 18, Andersson’s style is altogether unique: a mix of soft folk with jazzy soul, and a distinctly Andersson use of multiple instruments and arrangements to create an overwhelmingly complex one woman show. “Stockholm is nice, Paris at night. New York’s the coolest thing,” she murmurs while softly prancing about the stage. Later, she plucks at her violin as if she holds a ukulele on some private beach, and the crowd is in love. By the show’s end, each and every audience member feels a bit lost without her presence to gaze after and her soft song to hear. Luckily we have new album Street Parade to console our weary hearts. This experience of her live performance is an important element of her music, as every time you listen to the album, you feel as though you are in the very club which I described. You are sitting at a candlelit table in some small Swedish town, and Theresa is singing just for you. Theresa, you can serenade us any time.