Sweden is such a torch bearer for cutting edge soul music these days. Its not easy to explain soul music for those new to this genre. I like to describe it as emotional music, though that probably doesn’t do it much justice. It’s not as easy as saying its Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder and Prince. No, it’s more than that, the mere fact of name dropping presupposes that it is exclusive. It is not. It is universal. Dig deep enough and you will find that almost all musicians dead or alive have been influenced by soul music. Look hard enough and you will realise that it is thee musicians genre, it is a quality, a yearning that so many strive for, yet find so elusive.
Someone once told me, “There are only two kinds of music, good and bad” – I think that’s it. Soul music lives in the former.
So to get back on track, this post will share a little sweet Swedish soul love I have been harbouring for many years. It always amazes me how such a small country with a population of about 10 million churn out so many quality gems. It does have quite a pervasive welfare state, perhaps with the government taking care of everything, people just have alot of time to write good quality songs… but I digress…
I’ll start with Little Dragon – Twice. This is quite well known now, but not many people realise that they are a Swedish band. Often described as electro soul. Apt enough I think. Yukimi Nagano has featured with other musicians aplenty. Most notably with Koop where the songs are like a summer breeze. On this number however, its dark, broody and hauntingly beautiful.
DAMN! – Headstone. I could not find a full version of the song on youtube, but this snippet should be enough to get you on the sly slow burning soulful funk. This song reminds me of the magic Lewis Taylor brought to the table in his prime. The only major downside with this band is their name, its not unique enough, search Damn! in YouTube and you get a bunch a rubbish clips, these guys should have thought better. For those in the know though, Damn! is a rare gem of a find. While your at it check out the other song on the album “country ways” – solid.
Tingsek – Let it shine. Picking a song from this artist was hard, he has so many good songs, some of them like “Let it shine” sounds like it was conjured in melodic heaven. Other songs like “Good Vs Bad” put on a new twist to the old school call and answer singing used in so many soul records of the day and it sounds bloody inspirational. Why he doesn’t garner more views remains a mystery to me. Enjoy.
Maia Hirasawa – And I found this boy. This song is both uplifting and cute. There… I can’t believe I said this song is cute… and that applies to the video clip and Maia herself. On her wiki page she is described as half Japanese and half Swedish, great combination I must say. Her first couple of albums were geared to the Swedish population however her latest foray has her marketing her talents to Japan. Looking at her YouTube views from Japan I think she is starting to get noticed. This song however came from her first album and from memory it shot straight up the charts, one listen and you will see why, even the video clip is one of the best choreographed I have seen and matches the song perfectly.
Albin Gromer – Har inne hos mig. Don’t ask me what the title means in English, I have no freaking idea, if you curiosity needs t be sated, use Google translate. In amongst these aforementioned quality artists we get Albin Gromer, heck I don’t even know how to pronounce his name properly, but this track is mindblowing, literally. The song sounds like it was LSD induced, and if John Lennon was born in the era of electronic music this is what he would be creating. Its deep. One listen and you have to wonder how the hell does Sweden produce these artists. I can’t tell you much more about his other tracks, but hey don’t let that stop you from exploring.
With that mix I hope you have become a fan of Swedish soul. If you find or know of other swedish musicians who should be on this list let me know in the comments section.