BS221 Maggie Bjorklund Shaken Album Cover Art
| BS 221


LP comes with digital download of the album

Backing band includes Jim Barr (of Portishead)John Parrish (PJ Harvey, Sparklehorse), John Convertino (of Calexico), and vocals by Kurt Wagner (Lambchop)

Bjorklund is a pedal steel guitarist/singer/composer from Copenhagen, Denmark.  Over the years she has landed coveted touring gigs with Jack White (and performed on his latest Lazaretto), X’s John Doe and Exene Cervenka, and

Full Description

Bjorklund is a pedal steel guitarist/singer/composer from Copenhagen, Denmark.  Over the years she has landed coveted touring gigs with Jack White (and performed on his latest Lazaretto), X’s John Doe and Exene Cervenka, and Howe Gelb, and recruited big names for her debut release Coming Home in 2011: Mark Lanegan, Calexico’s Joey Burns and John Convertino, John Auer (the Posies), to name a few.

With the release of her second album Shaken, Bjorklund again puts together an A-plus band, consisting of drummer Convertino, Barb Hunter on cello, Jim Barr (Portishead) on bass, John Parish (noted for his work as a singer/songwriter with PJ Harvey, Sparklehorse) on guitars/electric bass and production, and a featured guest vocal appearance by Kurt Wagner (Lambchop). This time around, the songwriting has a dire purpose and a profound, cathartic inspiration for its timely arrangement.

“The album took form in the midst of some big changes in my life,” Bjorklund said. “My mother died. I wrote a big part of the material while going to the hospital every day and helping her on her last road to the end.”

Shaken is full of potent memories and emotional outpouring, as translated into the warm but dark sonic textures. Much of the music here - whether instrumental or with vocals - flows like lucid dreams, with the listener visualizing the scenery via detailed aural talisman (e.g. the surreal warped music box feel in “The Road To Samarkand”) and sepia-tinged picturesque tchotchkes (in “Walking” Maggie delicately sings, “ice in a glass/ and I held it to cool the palm of my hand” or “stones in the road/ worn-out boots and street signs for shows”). At the sound’s core are the subtly dominant and defining touches of Bjorklund’s pedal steel melody lines, best heard in the distorted ghostly swells of “Bottom of the Well” and the breathy waves of “The Unlucky.”

Some of these details and lyrical themes show for a strain of melancholy throughout the album, but Bjorklund clarifies that the songs aren’t all sad. In “Walking” the singer is ready to break when she eeks out, “I was ready to fall…” but finds redeeming inspiration, “Dancing, that is all we’ve got to do/ Keep on dancing right on ‘til the night is through.” Similarly, there are signs of spiritual perseverance in “Bottom of the Well”: “I’m a warrior who lost the war but still I wanna fight/ I’m a drunkard at the bottom at the well”

The experience of composing after such a weighty, emotional event surprisingly brought with it a release of creative sparks - like taking a deep breath - and an excitement that she feared was stowed away during the mourning process. Shaken takes its shape from that magic that is created when a group of musicians play together and collectively interpret a singular vision, which in this case, was mending a grieving heart.

The individual pieces of the collective jointly forge a sort of rootsy Frankenstein’s monster, stitching appendages together from the aura of Hunter’s cinematic and emotive cello bowing, Convertino’s brush-driven desert noir/jazz-orchestral drumming, Barr’s creeping upright bass lines, and the reverb-through-vintage guitars sound of Parish and Bjorklund. Essences of Broadcast, Portishead, Serge Gainesbourg, and Ennio Morricone can be felt throughout.

“Watching a human wither and die is one of the strongest things I have witnessed,” Bjorklund admits. “That little gap between the life before and the life after this event, happened by chance to be the exact time of this album taking shape. That moment holds some fundamental truths if we dare to explore them. I chose to stay with it and let it happen.”


Short Description
  • This beguiling Americana album often sound[s] like it belong[s] in a David Lynch film.

    — The Boston Globe
  • Maggie Bjorklund is the new prophet of pedal steel...a much-needed breath of fresh air for American roots music. 

    — The Bluegrass Situation
  • "[She's] made music with Jack White and members of X, but here she’s a global cowgirl vaguely channeling Leonard Cohen at the cosmic rodeo, and doing it quite well."

    — Washington Post
  • Warm, Americana landscapes in a very ghostly, emotionally gripping album… If there’s any justice this cathartic album should position her as a first rate songstress and powerful front woman. (4.5 / 5 stars)

    — New Noise
  • By alternating songs with instrumental compositions, Björklund delivers a texturally rich and emotionally powerful portrait. She knows not only of what she sings and plays but to whom. There is just enough space -- and ambiguity -- in them for the listener to fully enter and inhabit.

  • Whether played all the way through or skipping around between tracks, Shaken lays itself out like one dark and hazy dream. The songs are big on both depth and warmth, whether instrumental or complimented by Bjorklund's

    — Best New
  • Lush and intense instrumentals that fall somewhere between contemporary experimental and classical music, Shaken is made up of rich strings, ominous percussion, and ghostly harmonies.

    — The Horn
  • Her own rural guitar squall explorations sound authentically eerie and distressed. This would fit great into a
    Coen brothers backwoods noir scene.

    — CMJ
  • Shaken is a delightfully tortured collection of songs. With heart-wrenching darkness lying directly on the surface, Bjorklund takes the role of pop siren to new territory.

    — Detroit Metro Times
  • Imagine, if you will, Ansel Adams being the cinematographer on David Lynch’s re-make of Annie Get Your Gun. This could and should be the soundtrack.

    — No Depression

Track List

  1. Dark Side of the Heart
  2. Walking
  3. Bottom of the Well
  4. The Road to Samarkland
  5. Fro Fro Heart
  6. The Unlucky
  7. Name in the Sand
  8. Missing at Sea
  9. Ashes
  10. Amador
  11. Teach Me How to Say Goodbye


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