Born in Stockholm and raised on her father’s R&B and soul records, 21-year-old Bergendahl knew from age 5 that she wanted to write and sing songs. The platinum blonde appeared on Swedish national TV at age 16, where she turned in a performance of Bonnie Raitt’s “Have A Heart” that went on to garner millions of YouTube views. Two years later, in 2010, she was chosen by Swedish audiences in the song competition “Melodifestivalen” (the most watched television event in Sweden) to represent their country in the Eurovision Song Contest.
But it wasn’t Bergendahl’s résumé that won over Klein. It was her voice. “I love voices that don’t telegraph self-consciousness,” says the Grammy-winning producer. He adds that within seconds of hearing someone sing, “It either touches my heart and makes me feel something intensely, or it doesn’t. Those are the voices that I’m drawn to, and I was immediately drawn to her voice.”
With her lovely, world-weary vocals at its core, ’Something To Believe In' evokes the sounds of Emmylou Harris, Norah Jones and Lucinda Williams. Breezy acoustic guitars, a spare rhythm section and touches of piano, steel and slide guitar — all tracked by Klein’s studio A-team — set the foundation for Bergendahl’s wiser-than-her-years musings. Opener “I Don’t Know (Where We’re Going With This)” finds the artist waiting in vain for a lover’s “delinquent call”; “Somebody said ‘love is so strange' / It always has been, it ain’t gonna change,” she concludes. Bergendahl refines this sense of romantic resignation over the album’s 12 songs, grasping for meaning in relationships and in life in general. “I Hate New York" is an ironic love song to the city set against a foreigner's romantic view of Manhattan, while on the bluesy rambler “Fun,” she stakes her claim as “a James Dean rebel for a brand new age,” a “Bambi breaking out of a booby-trapped cage.”
While expertly crafted, the songs on ’Something To Believe In' came together quickly, Bergendahl says, a testament to her and Klein’s collaborative harmony. “He could play a line on the guitar and it almost made my cry. I started to sing above it and one hour later we would have a complete song." Her live show is just as effortless, apparently — KPND-Spokane music director Diane Michaels says she was hooked on Bergendahl’s music before seeing her perform in San Francisco early this year, but “seeing her live was the icing on the cake.”