In an era that limits escape and travel, save the fantastical journeys we can conjure inside of our heads, Helena Hallberg’s newest release, “Cause I Can,” is the perfect sonic accompaniment for imagined adventures.
Hallberg, a Swiss/Swedish musician with an expansive linguistic and musical repertoire, described the song’s narrative to be “a dreamy story featuring lots of characters doing strange things for strange reasons.”
Yet in listening to “Cause I Can’s” lyrics, I felt a comforting sense of relatability. For the narrative paints a picture of someone trying to find clarity in their life, ultimately realizing that they need someone else to forge the path for them. Which despite its peculiar nature, is incredibly resonant.
With her heart on her sleeve
Age-old story that she can’t seem to leave
It is this feeling of confinement that leads the song’s subjects to a journey within their minds, be it exploring philosophical quandaries or a daydream about a possible mate.
She wanders to find her a form of religion
Dear deity won’t you show me your ways
She says “build be a man handsome and cunning
I’ll do as he asks
And I’ll lovingly hold his cold hands
Just because I can.”
The subjects seem both lost without love, yet go wayward within their minds as they search for a significant other to guide them on their journey of life.
Yet as the title suggests, there seems to be a degree of self-acceptance and understanding reached by Hallberg’s subjects: they conjure these imagined romantic partners “because they can,” and they are fine with it, because “that’s how I am.”
Nevertheless, the acceptance of oneself represented in this track doesn’t feel like a resignation to an unwanted fate. Rather, in finding understanding with one’s ways, there seems to be a vast set of possibilities opened. After acceptance comes pride—an unwavering carefree attitude of living how one knows how to live, even if as this song suggests, this living occurs through someone else. There are none of the confines of reality within an imagined world.
And in constructing these worlds, Hallberg is a natural storyteller; and this shows not only in the finesse of her lyrics but in her dynamic vocal inflections and “Cause I Can’s” lively lo-fi folk tune.
The light piano and groovy bassline work together to create an infectious buoyant feel, and with Hallberg’s clear yet vividly emotive vocals, this track meanders into the musical theatre-esque artistry created in tracks like Sammy Rae’s “Talk It Up.” For as Hallberg’s vocals crescendo in the final moments of the track, there is nothing listeners can do but be utterly transfixed on her stunning performance.
Yet I am equally drawn to the pared-down, acoustic version of this track Hallberg initially released on her YouTube channel in 2017 because it also captures the feel-good folk sentiment that this updated version masterfully creates. But regardless of the complexity of its instrumental backing, “Cause I Can’s” soothing tale of yearning for a new reality deeply potent.
“Cause I Can’s” magic lies in Hallberg’s ability to tell a story of self-acceptance in spite of one’s flaws in an imaginative manner that inspires listeners to do look inward and do the same. And whether the result of her stunningly clear vocals or due to the track’s feel-good folk nature, “Cause I Can” feels like a warm blanket that I’d to be wrapped up in indefinitely. Thus, as I escape into my own imagined alternate realities, I’ll rely on this song to take me there.