Ahead of the release of her forthcoming album Classic Objects this Friday, March 11, Norwegian musician and novelist Jenny Hval has shared the record’s final single, the airy and reflective “Freedom.” The track arrives with a video directed by Hval, Annie Bielski and Jenny Berger Myhre, both of whom also collaborated with Hval on the visuals for prior Classic Objects single “Year of Love.”
Where prior singles “Jupiter” and “Year Of Love” burned slowly, blossoming into delicately layered pop opuses as they reached the end of their runtimes, “Freedom” only gives itself two minutes and 16 seconds to accomplish the same, and it does so with grace. If the earlier singles were the buildup leading to Hval dropping a giant stone in a pond, “Freedom” is the ripples of water that wash over the stone in the aftermath, as Hval reflects upon the titular topic and its questionable definition at this fraught point in time. “Out there is the world / where you’re threatening the lives / of fragile individuals when you stir in the mud. / Look to the birds, / to the crowds that have dispersed / in the wounded air that we call freedom,” she sings, letting her honeyed voice float to the top and pulling us up with her, opening our eyes to what a reimagined concept of freedom could look like.
Hval talked about the track’s meaning and how it serves as a palate cleanser for the rest of the record in a statement:
I don’t know what freedom is. This song doesn’t either. The lyrics are bombastic and silly, as if written by a political folk song generator. Nonetheless the song was needed on my record—I needed something short and sweet after a series of long, layered reflections.
I imagine it being sung in a courtroom or in parliament when the debate gets too heated and everyone needs a break. In this imagined moment, everyone is singing in unison.
This is the only way I can describe “Freedom”—as a kind of performative moment that breaks up the structure, language and ambivalence of the rest of the record. On its own, it seems weirdly clear and pure. I can’t really defend it. Or perhaps it is myself I can’t defend. The song is necessary. It just reminds me of the fact that I am not.
Hval is set to begin a European tour this Friday, kicking off in Oslo and wrapping up in Nantes, France in April. She’ll also be heading out on a North American tour the following month, beginning in Boston on May 25 and ending in Los Angeles on May 25.
Check out the video for “Freedom” below. You can preorder Classic Objects here.