‘Like Shadows In The Night’, the first single from Sweetheart’ highly anticipated second album

Photo: David B Torch

Sweetheart is undoubtedly one of the most important names on Norwegian Americana scene. Their minimalist debut album ‘Sweetheart’ from 2020 was hailed as “the year’s most beautiful album” and got well deserved the Spellemann Award (Norwegian Grammy) in the country category. In October 2021 the band released the EP ‘I Remember Us, My Dear’ where they developed their signature soft sound. And on the new single John-Arne Ø. Gundersen and Anne Mette Hårdnes have teamed up with jazz legend Nils Petter Molvær on trumpet, and the pedal steel is played by multi-instrumentalist Fats Kaplin from Nashville, who has previously worked with Beck, Jack White, and John Prine

The new single, as well as all Sweetheart’ music, released via Mother Like It Records and available on all steaming servises

Read the interview with John-Arne Ø. Gundersen, songwriter, vocalist and guitarist of Sweetheart, talking about the story behind ‘Like Shadows In The Night’, new sound and the new album coming in September 

“I don’t care if I’m lost, I don’t care if I’m afraid
It’s around midnight, I’m in the dark always
It feels right on time…”

“‘Like Shadows In The Night’ has beautiful and deep emotional lyrics. It feels like all this is a small piece of a long story. So how was it written?”

Thank you so much for those kind words! I believe the chorus, with the words “call off the wolves, call off the cops”; first came to me about a year and a half ago. I was sitting in my kitchen, strumming on the guitar that was given to me by my father. Actually, I think he borrowed it 35 years ago and never returned it, and I was the one using it. It’s an unauthorized replica of a Japanese-made Martin from the 70s. It’s not the greatest, the strings are always worn out, but I adore it, and I write all my songs on it. It’s a beat up old thing. In fact, this is the very same guitar you hear on ‘Like Shadows in the Night’ the only song ever recorded with it – I just wanted to use it for something. The rest of the songs were recorded with gorgeous old Gibsons that I borrowed, so I wanted to feature the guitar on which the songs were written, at least for one track. And this was the one. Anyway, some of the lyrics were completed while I was jogging, I recall, in the woods around Oslo. Not a fast run, not a long one, just a slow, leisurely pace. It’s the only way I can do it, run that is. I wanted the song to convey the feeling of being alone at midnight, lost in contemplation, pondering things you should not ponder. Or something along those lines. I think we’ve all experienced moments like that. The song was ultimately finished a week or just days before we entered the studio to record it. And then we turned off the lights in the studio, and just let the wolves out. Quietly, though, as always.

“On the new single you have teamed up with Nils Petter Molvær and Fats Kaplin. What was their contribution to the single? And what can you tell about working with them?”

One day, while we were sitting on the couch in the control room of the studio, our producer Kai Andersen said, “It might be something to have Nils Petter involved” He casually mentioned it during a conversation, almost in a low tone. Apparently, Andersen had been inFrance a few weeks earlier, where he was listening to some poor iPhone demos we had sent him. At that moment, Nils Petter Molvær entered the room, started listening, and said something like, “What is this?” So, both the collaboration with Nils Petter Molvær and Fats Kaplin came about through our producer Kai Andersen, who had previously worked with both of them. When he mentioned Fats Kaplin, who had played with Beck, Jack White, and John Prine, and asked if he should play pedal steel… We were really excited about the idea. And Fats agreed to do it! So, Fats recorded pedal steel in Nashville, and Molvær, God knows where he was, but it turned out beautifully, both parts. Then everything they recorded was sent to us via the internet. We feel that they bring beautiful melodies and a haunting atmosphere to the song, and it sounds like they are playing together, even though they are not. They are simply fantastic, and amazing musicians. It turned out much better than we could have ever imagined, and we greatly appreciate both of their contributions. The song wouldn’t be the same without them. However, we have never met them. Not yet. But we’re keeping our fingers crossed for it. And preferably in Nashville, perhaps?

“‘Like Shadows In The Night’ is the first single from your upcoming second full-length album. In October 2021 you released the EP ‘I Remember Us, My Dear’. Have you taken something written for this EP, but not released, to the new album or will it be completely new material?

It’s all fresh material, written over the past year, except for “World War 3”, which happened to be the very first song we ever recorded and released. Interestingly enough, it was also the first song I had written in about 13 years. I composed it on a Saturday in 2018 and completed it after midnight. I sent an iPhone demo to Mette and Frode Bjørnstad, who were part of the band at that time. Frode replied, saying, “Should we record it tomorrow?” And so we did, 16 hours after I wrote it. That became our debut single, released towards the end of 2018. We felt that the song deserved a place on an album, so we re-recorded it for this project, coming full circle in a way, as we have also returned to the minimalistic sound we had when we first started playing together in 2018.

“When can we expect to hear more new music from Sweetheart?”

We will be releasing one more single before the summer, and another in August, leading up to the album’s release on September 1. We genuinely hope you will enjoy it!

John-Arne Ø. Gundersen – vocals / acoustic guitar
Anne Mette Hårdnes – vocals / piano 

Additional musicians
Nils Petter Molvær – trumpet
Fats Kaplin – pedal steel guitar

‘Like Shadows In The Night’
Written by John-Arne Ø. Gundersen
Produced by Kai Andersen
Recorded at Athletic sound with Dag Erik Johansen as recording engineer 
Mixed by Kai Andersen
Mastered by George Tanderø

Cover art by Anette L’orange