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A Lanky Swede – Soon, Soon, Soon album review

Sweden: a country with no shortage of musical talent. Widely successful acts such as ABBA, Roxette, Ace of Base, Opeth, the Cardigans, Robyn and Swedish House Mafia have reminded us time and again that it has a music scene worthy of attention. Like any other country’s music scene, it also consists of its artists whose fan base is predominantly located within the country. But that in itself is often only a matter of time.

One such Swedish group that’s been gathering attention is indie rock band The Perishers. The band—formed in the late ‘90s and fronted by lead singer Ola Klüft—has shared a stage with Sarah McLachlan while touring together in 2005, and have had their tracks featured in popular TV shows such as The O.C., One Tree Hill, 90210 and Grey’s Anatomy.

After spending over ten years with The Perishers, Ola Klüft left to work on his solo project. A year and a half spent jetting between Canada and Sweden for recording sessions has resulted in the album’s completion and release on May 22, 2012. The result is Klüft’s, or A Lanky Swede’s, album titled Soon, Soon, Soon.

The album, released under Nettwerk Records, consists of twelve tracks of mostly mellow, slow rock songs. On April 12, 2012, the album’s first single “Downhill” was released; a catchy acoustic tune featuring backup vocals by Helena Gutarra and Torbjörn Gjers. “Follow My Heart” is a moody tune that engenders the bittersweetness of leaving home while “Okanagan Peaches” provides the album’s most uptempo track. The tremolo effect played on the guitar in “Birch Tree” gives the tune a 60’s flair.
Quite a few of the tracks also feature collaborations with other Swedish band members such as Jonas Svennem Lundberg of Winhill/Losehill, Helena Gutarra and Torbjörn Gjers of La Puma, Scott Smith of Terminal Station, Daniel Berglund of Isolation Years and Kim Kinakin of San Angelus.

Fans of The Perishers and those seeking slower rock jams will enjoy this laid-back work as they explore this crooning Swede’s moodier side. Listeners keen on relaxing tunes will rejoice, and their only complaint might be that some tracks tend to be shorter than the average 3-minute duration. But one might say, they’d need only press ‘replay.’

As a note: while physical copies of the album have only been released in Europe thus far, Soon, Soon, Soon is widely available in digital form.

A Lanky Swede - Soon, Soon, Soon album review

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Billy Bragg and Wilco – Mermaid Avenue: The Complete Sessions Vol. III review

There wasn’t just one. There were several. Indeed, boxes and boxes of them, all full of papers and words that had been sitting there for at least four decades. Song lyrics that had been written into life on paper but, for lack of a matching tune, would remain confined to the pages, never to reach the airwaves.

But that would soon change.

Nora Guthrie knew better than to ignore her folk artist father Woody Guthrie’s preserved gems, and she had just the person in mind for the task. After contacting British artist Billy Bragg—the man she deemed best fit to embody Woody’s spirit—and adding American artists Wilco and Natalie Merchant to the mix, two projects came of it. In 1998 Mermaid Avenue delivered the first set of eleven tracks to much critical acclaim, followed by eleven more tracks in 2000’s Mermaid Avenue Vol. II.

Given Woody Guthrie’s substantial writings, it only seems fair that a third volume should follow suit. As part of a package celebrating Woody Guthrie’s 100th birthday, Elektra Records’ 4-volume package includes the original Mermaid Avenue, the re-mastered Mermaid Avenue Vol. II and the brand-new Mermaid Avenue Vol. III. The 4th volume consists of the Man In The Sand DVD, a documentary on the making of the Mermaid Avenue albums.

The new third Mermaid Avenue album offers a collection of 17 previously unreleased tracks from the earlier Mermaid Avenue recording sessions. The tracks showcase a variety of styles which may arguably render this third volume more experimental than the first two. Indeed the medley of blues, upbeat, slow jams and acoustic tunes ensure a varied yet still folk-based listening experience.

Soulful blues tunes are heard in tracks like “Gotta Work,” “Jailcell blues,” and “Teabag Blues” while the acoustic “When The Roses Bloom Again” and “Don’t You Marry” reflect their romantic yet also slightly melancholic natures. American history is further embodied in “My Thirty Thousand” and “Union Prayer,” tracks with lyrics specific to the Civil War and the KKK. The most modern-sounding tracks are “Ought To Be Satisfied Now” and the Beatles-like “Listening To The Wind That Blows.” The raw and edgy feel of “Ought To Be Satisfied Now” may arguably be the album’s standout track.

Perhaps one of the best things about the album is that it is likely to please loyal fans as it is to inspire new ones. Indeed, if it can provide enjoyment and provoke curiosity in new listeners—myself included—then there is little telling how many others it may move in a similar fashion. The themes addressed are not always easy to reflect upon however the album delivers an overall upbeat and joyful feel, sending listeners down the good ol’ Americana memory lane. While some might be moved to dig through old boxes in search of their own history, just listening might trigger your very own sepia-tinted memories.