Oh Land shares her most intimate music yet in the form of her album Family Tree, streaming four days early on Billboard below.
The new album comes in stark contrast to her last solo project, Earth Sick, released five years ago. Diverging from that album’s heavy synths and experimental sounds, Family Tree dials back for a more acoustic singer-songwriter feel, featuring soft piano and Oh Land’s (born Nanna Øland Fabricius) hypnotizing vocals.
The shift in style is reflective of the Danish artist’s tumultuous life as of late. After years spent developing her career in New York, the 33-year-old pop singer had a baby, moved back home to Denmark and got a divorce — all over the span of 18 months.
Fabricius channeled her pain, confusion and vulnerability into the 12-track album, which features standout songs like “Human Error” and “Brief Moment” that show off Oh Land’s beautiful lyricism and quiet strength.
“And why did I expect/ That I had my life planned out perfect?” Fabricius sings on “Human Error.” “Adding all the numbers correct/ No missing digits, no real mistakes/ Just human errors/ Make human hearts break.”
“This album is pretty much the DNA of my songwriting,” Fabricius tells Billboard. “No intentions, no preservations — just raw emotion. I will grow new leaves on my ‘Family Tree.'”
Prior to writing Family Tree, Oh Land had “a ton” of music in the works and was even writing a script for a film to go along with the new releases. However, in the midst of her divorce, Fabricius says all the music “suddenly seemed irrelevant,” and she was forced to start from scratch.
The LP was produced by Thomas Bartlett, who co-produced Florence + The Machine’s High as Hope last year. Fabricius brought her completed songs to him in a studio in New York, and together the two of them worked to find each song’s distinct sound.
“The moment I heard the demo of Family Tree — so lacerating and tragic, but also just so very well-written — I knew this was going to be a special record,” Bartlett says to Billboard. “Balancing out all that tragedy, Nanna is a glorious goofball of a person, and a brilliant, playful, kamikaze musical mind.”
Unlike Oh Land’s previous work, almost all of the songs on Family Tree were written at the piano. The album — which also features orchestral parts played by the Budapest Art Orchestra — shares Fabricius’ struggles as she grapples with the turmoil in her personal life and finds comfort in her music.
“The changes taking place in my life were so foreign to me, it made me feel like I was the first person in the world to experience them,” Fabricius says. “That can be a very lonely feeling. So I decided to put these songs out in the world, so that others who might be having similar experiences won’t feel so lonely or lost.”
Family Tree is slated to drop Friday, May 3, but you can stream the full album exclusively on Billboard today.