The story of IOLA begins with a young Norwegian girl in North Carolina with a fondness for folk music. Carey Sveen–the woman behind IOLA– came to the United States as a young girl and began singing country tunes in a small town, but even at that young age, her aspirations looked far beyond her home. After years of traveling and grappling with heartbreak, death, and other hardships, Sveen began writing her own songs. The result is music that is soft, off-kilter, often biting, but always memorable.
Arnfinn, IOLA’s first album, bears the name of Sveen’s late father and has many delicate, reflective moments, but “Chichen” may be the most harrowing. Constructed around a funereal organ and an emotional vocal performance from Sveen, “Chichen” reaches beyond mere folk and elevates IOLA into the lofty stratosphere of atmospheric songwriters like Kate Bush and St. Vincent. Even with such a young career, it’s clear that Sveen has a classic piece of music in her. You can listen to “Chichen” below.