Bendick Finborud – a Norwegian sing-songwriter’s name rather than a particularly personal instruction – has released his latest single, Tears & Laughter, continuing his homeland’s remarkable run of sprouting introspective folk musicians. The town of Voss – not to be confused with the pricey water which is from elsewhere – is a suitably bleak if beautiful backdrop to Bendick’s yearning voice and ringing acoustic guitar. There’s a little Paul Simon-ness at play here, indeed on occasion, the track threatens to turn into a funereal version of Homeward Bound. In fact, if you consider Homeward Bound as the metal version of Tears & Laughter, you’ll get an idea of the fragility. The lyrics are a barely restrained outpouring of grief at the loss of his mother, so it’s not one you’ll be whistling at the bus stop but it’s certainly a positive sign that the album which is shortly to be unveiled will be worth a bit of a nosey.
Bendik Finborud was born in 1995 in Voss, a small winter village in the western part of Norway. Following his brother’s example, he started playing music at an early age. Finding inspiration in the intimate sound and lyrics of nordic folk and folk-pop artists of the time. (Thomas Dybdahl, Ane Brun, Sondre Lerche) In 2014 he spent a year studying music production, but soon gravitated towards songwriting. In 2015 he started studying at the University of Agder, joining the first group in Norway to take a bachelors degree in songwriting.
Finborud also started working on what would become his first singles, ‘Feels Like Home’, ‘This Time It’s Goodbye’ and ‘Rebel, Rebel’. The songs gained some acclaim, especially the second single, This Time It’s Goodbye. Avisa Hordaland called it “A calm, clear, pure and beautiful ballad.” Finborud also started dabbling with art and animation, this time taking after his parents, (his father was a visual artist and mother an art teacher) and in early 2019 released his first self made, hand painted music video. Hand made animations would become somewhat of a trademark for the artist.
Throughout 2018 and 2019 Finborud worked on the music for an upcoming album that would come to be called ‘Tears & Laughter’. This time around the album would be written, recorded and produced mainly at home, Finborud playing acoustic guitar, piano, saxophones and singing backing vocals himself, only working with a handful of young musicians. During this time Finborud also started writing more about the grief of losing his mother at an early age. The songs on ‘Tears & Laughter’ paint a vivid, authentic and complex image of grief.
“I realised I had never really confronted my feelings surrounding the loss of my mother. One day, listening to Dylan, I kind of stumbled upon ‘Mama, You Been On My Mind’, and the lyrics for new songs just started coming to me. Writing about grief suddenly seemed like the most natural thing in the world.”
The first single from the album, ‘Bargaining’, named after one of the seven stages of grief, was released in the summer of 2020, accompanied by yet another self-made hand painted music video. The video consisted of just under 2000 separate acrylic paintings, traced (rotoscoped) on thin paper over a computer screen. Finborud himself said the music video would have been difficult to finish if it hadn’t been for the covid-19 outbreak.
“Getting stuck in Voss for months on end without my guitar or microphone I had to get creative. Thankfully my father is an artist, so we had about a year’s supply of acrylic paint. Thanks to covid I also had all the time in the world and no distractions. The video took about eight months to make, which is a lot, but I think it would have taken at least a year had it not been for the circumstances.”
Bargaining gained a lot of praise, with ballade.no calling it “[…] one of the most beautiful things we’ve seen in a long time.” The video also earned a nomination for best music video at Bergen International Film Festival (BIFF) 2020.
Following Bargaining, Bendik Finborud has released multiple more singles; ‘No One Compares’, a classic love story stretching the span of a relationships, ‘Just Another Day’, a song about the refugee crisis, describing the absurdity of the situation with an upbeat and unconcerned summer sound, ‘Nowhere To Be’, a calm and quiet song about grief, with all instruments played by the artist himself, including saxophones, steel guitar and piano, ‘Leave Me, Love’, more of a classic piano ballad about bitterness and denial in a break up and ‘One Day at a Time’, yet another break up story.