Note: This review originally appeared in the Illinois Entertainer.
Hailing from a small college town in Norway, Ida (pronounced Ee-dah) Maria gives emotionally-charged performances throughout her U.S. debut, Fortress Round My Heart. Her talky, broken-glass vocals feature screams, laughter, and an occasional dash of theatrical flair as she spins musical tales of drinking binges, one-night stands, and not being able to pay the rent. She’s backed by a trio playing sparse but revved-up arrangements that add to the punk intensity of these songs.
The catchy first track “Oh My God” opens with Ida Maria chanting “Find a cure for my life” while the less manic “Drive Away My Heart” and “Keep Me Warm” describe the pitfalls and joys of love, respectively. On “I Like You So Much Better When You’re Naked” (already a hit in the U.K.) Ida Maria manages to sound both incredibly sexy and totally desperate as a singles bar patron determined not to go home alone. Later, she depicts the disappointment that comes on the morning with the wise and funny “Morning Light.”