Lazy Afternoon – Just As Poor As Before
This Gotland, Sweden conglomeration of first-class musicians performs pure Americana & gets off to an invigorating start with Jorgen Ahlquist (accordions/melodeons) & the absolutely satiny vocals of Cristina Safsten (acoustic guitar/vocal) on “Who Am I To Say.” Miraculously charged with melody, warmth & loads of competency. Lovely.
Cristina shines as well on the title cut & “My Harbour Home” — a somewhat folky style like Australia’s The Seekers’ great vocalist Judith Durham. Cristina is that good.
On the 2nd song “Annelie,” the band hovers close to the quality of the classic Canadian-American ensemble The Band with the accordion sweetening the performance, crisp drums, and incisive vocals glorious among the instrumentation. The showcase made me play it twice in a row.
The 7-piece knows its way around this music better than most. Each cut has its own distinct melody line & the arrangements bristle with brightness throughout. “Over the Mountains,” sounds like a song that could’ve been written a 100-years ago. The traditional tint in the sound is a bold stroke.
It’s a gratifying set of masterful songs. Lazy Afternoon’s 47-minute 13-track CD Just As Poor As Before (Drops May 15-Artache-Paraply Records) is an excellent follow-up to their marvelous 12-cut set from 2019 — “Almost There.”
The band plays as smooth as hot fudge poured over a big scoop of vanilla ice cream. Their hot rhythmic style modernizes many traditional type approaches that are infectious to the ears. They boast 3 lead singers (just like The Band).
Bo Ahlbertz (bouzouki/banjo & vocal), Elvira Hall (fiddle, washboard & vocal), Pontus Nordborg (Telecaster guitar/dobro & vocal), Stefan Magnusson (drums & vocal) with Mary Nordseth (harmonies on “My Harbour Home” “The Dream of My Life” & “I’ll Be Going Home”), & Robin Larsson (banjo – “Who Am I To Say?”).
This is satisfying. Many musical tendrils & a wild strain of poignancy in nearly every song. These are first-class musicians that would certainly get people of the country-folk-roots & Americana States dancing with smiles pasted on their Republican & Democrat faces. Maybe that’s what we need – more music like this & less talk.
Just As Poor As Before is indeed one of the best of 2022. Americana is universal. Here’s the proof along with Norway’s fine group Silver Lining. All a pleasant surprise. Latino rock proliferates (Los Lobos), Italians provide classic progressive with PFM, Greeks gave us Vangelis, reggae from Jamaica with Bob Marley, South Africa’s Johnny Clegg’s Julukka & the recent success of the Danish Symphony Orchestra (YouTube) with Ennio Morricone’s music. Amazing.
“The Dream of My Life,” features hot fiddle work that would make a country fiddler clap his hands & a rollicking great dance tune that belongs at a barn dance – anywhere in the world. Tex-Mex arrives with brilliance on “Wild,” that even the Texas Tornadoes & the late Doug Sahm would embrace.
Fold-out insert with lyrics included. Lazy Afternoon photo by Emma Wulkan. CD @ https://www.lazyafternoonmusic.com/