Discuss: Carl Espen’s Silent Storm is the ballad of the year

While singing “Silent Storm” at Norway’s Melodi Grand Prix, Carl Espen frequently closed his eyes. It wasn’t a theatrical flourish. Over the course of three minutes he ferried the audience through sorrow and pain, disappointment and despair. Under that emotional weight, you’d close your eyes, too.

Carl’s voice carries meloncholy well, and any imperfections actually work in his favor. The occasional cracks and warbles fit with a performance about human frailty. Unlike so many Eurovision ballads, “Silent Storm” doesn’t rely on Carl singing louder and louder. His emotions are real. He drives the song with sincerity.

Carl Espen Silent Storm 3As recounted in his official biography, he served in the Norwegian military, including a stint in Kosovo, and has worked as a carpenter and moonlighted as a doorman at a rock bar. You could call him a jack-of-all-trades. But his varied career choices also suggest an inner turmoil, and an ongoing search to fill the void he so movingly sings about. The tattoos on his arm don’t smack of a gangster, but rather a creative type looking to tell a story.

We know he’s suffering, but we don’t know why: “I’m here to use my heart and my hands/ Somehow the bruises changed my plans.” He has to deal with all of this on his own. The storm rages but no one else can hear it.

Carl’s performance isn’t slick—nor should it be. Like a Per Petterson novel it’s sparse and raw and to the point. That’s one reason the live version is superior to the digitally re-mastered video below. Covering the cracks with gloss removes the vulnerability that makes this song so worthwhile.

Fortunately Eurovision is a live event, so we’ll hear Carl as we should.

Silent storm lyrics

Head to toe
Flesh and bones?
Should feel whole
But the void
A silent storm?

I’m here to use my heart and my hands
Somehow the bruises changed my plans?

And there’s a silent storm inside me
Looking for a home
I hope that someone’s gonna find me
And say that I belong
I’ll wait forever and a lifetime
To find I’m not alone
There’s a silent storm inside me
and someday I’ll be calm
Someday I’ll be calm

Ask myself
What comes next
Will I fly??
Will I fall?
My silent storm?

I’m here to use my heart and my hands ?
Somehow the bruises changed my plans?

And there’s a silent storm inside me
Looking for a home
I hope that someone’s gonna find me
And say that I belong
I’ll wait forever and a lifetime
To find I’m not alone
And there’s a silent storm inside me
Someday I’ll be calm

And someday I’ll be calm
And someday I’ll be calm

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Willy Lee Adams contributed this report from London. You can keep up-to-date on the latest Eurovision news and gossip by following the team on Twitter @wiwibloggs and by liking our Facebook page.