KUMD Album Review: Ingeborg Von Agassiz

Mar 14, 2018

Credit Ingeborg Von Agassiz

Ingeborg Von Agassiz| O Giver of Dreams

Duluth-based artist Ingeborg Von Agassiz is more than just a mouthful to pronounce. Von Agassiz, whose actual name is Emma Rusten, draws her moniker from two 12th century influences, Hildegard Von Bingen and Eleanor of Aquitaine, two of the most accomplished women in the Medieval era. Her newest project , O Giver of Dreams, is self-produced and described as a “Hank Williams melody with a Hip Hop beat;” truly her music is a unique blend of vocals, acoustics and drum production.

Beginning with “Lonesome Way” we get an appropriate introduction to Von Agassiz’ sound, with light guitar strums backed by graceful vocals. The song’s instruments are an aid to Von Agassiz voice, creating a track that evokes memories of summer nights and lake swims. An accordion adds a soft touch that feels warm and welcoming. Von Agassiz' unique vocal style is a highlight throughout the project, particularly on tracks such as "Will You Go?" and "Bulletproof Vest."

The album’s second track and perhaps one of its strongest ,“Oh, What a Morning,” has Von Agassiz singing of the joys of getting outside, an experience that’s often lacking for many individuals these days, especially children: “Come outside you can feel the sun and taste the rain/ if you stay indoors you will likely go insane.” The track not only emphasizes the artist’s vocal talents but her production as well, as she mixes in backup vocals of her own and from children, creating an upbeat feel without straying too far from the sound of the rest of the album. Another tune where her solid production shines is “Runtchkin Love.”

Von Agassiz doesn’t sacrifice her platform, delivering meaningful lyrics throughout the album while creating an intimate piece of art. “Sun Beats Down” gives a solid take on decision making as well as what we’re responsible for. The song at times seems like a folk-opera, with the vocals adjacent to some of the instruments. Sounds of laughter as well as a snippet of a child’s voice again makes the song personal and adds power to her lyrics: “Take a bull by the horns/ and show him who’s in charge”

Perhaps the most notable blend of genres is in “Rebel Robin,” where the mix of drums and organ-sounding keys develops a unique sound that’s very effective. One could describe it as Baptist gospel meets fiery folk girl. Von Agassiz isn’t one to shy away from directness in her lyrics, singing “Rebel Robin, she don’t take no shit from no one, though.” Not only is the song a highlight of the album but gives a take on what "strength”  looks like, particularly the fact that it can be feminine: “She’s got a heart of a lion and the wings of a dove”

Von Agassiz will be performing throughout Minnesota this Spring and will have an album release performance in Duluth at the Red Herring Lounge Thursday, March 15th at 7:30 pm and tickets are $5.00