Theresa Andersson’s career in New Orleans has been fascinating as she has tried on numerous traditional American genres—blues, funk, pop, folk—and her gift has been that she could do them all well. She has made each genre sound tailor-made for her talents, but as she ably moved from one to the next, it became clear that none of them suited her exactly. They gave her form, but they constrained her to that form.
On Hummingbird, Go! she is at her most convincing and her most eclectic. She borrows from Motown and girl groups on “Birds Fly Away,” and appropriates the folk form and reverence for “God’s Highway.” Andersson multitracks herself until she’s a doo wop group on “Introducing the Kitchenettes,” and she’s a song-and-dance singer on “Japanese Art.” The gestures hold together because the album is defined by its idiosyncrasy, and because she molds the different source materials into an organic, sometimes whimsical whole.
She recorded the album in her kitchen with producer Tobias Fröberg, and the homemade nature of Hummingbird, Go!—down to the repurposing of household items for musical use—gives us the most intriguing image of Andersson yet. She scaled down her performances, sometimes sing/speaking, sometimes letting go joyfully, sometimes cooing, sometimes crooning. By embracing the technology of production, she approaches the cool reserve of Stereolab at times, but she fabricates a warm intimacy as well.
Every song on Hummingbird, Go! has interesting textures and shapes, but instead of sounding artificial, the overall effect is that Andersson has found her own musical voice, one that accommodates her myriad interests. Sure, we’ve thought that in the past, but the way she sounds like a person, not a persona, suggests this time we might be right.