Su Andersson – Brave
It’s been a long time since I’ve had the pleasure to listen to an album that was exquisite from start to finish. From the simplistic melody of “Japanese Tea,” which is enchanting to the more fortified “Southern Belle,” — Henning Sernhede (Mando guitar/bass/guitars/acoustic/dobro/12-string acoustic/baryton guitar/organ/mandolin/synth) lays down some ebullient guitar sitar without sounding hippie-inspired.
Songs possess their own individuality. “Scissors,” is further enhanced by the vocals of Maja Granberg which adds ambiance. The lyrics are carefully structured – a bit Beat, some surreal, others just rootsy but always poetic. “Bread and Butter,” moves along slow in a Bohemian jazzy laid-back style. Then West Australian Ryan Edmond tosses in vulnerable & lovely cornet notes. Far gentler & more expressive than a trumpet.
It’s all exciting, exploratory music by a resplendent Swedish singer Su Andersson (acoustic guitar) who sets her melodies against the backdrop of intriguing, compelling words & music with stark storytelling. Add her authoritative vocal style & it’s instantly likable. Quite a fluid performance. Filled with a healthy component of tonality, phrasing & intonation. The musicians are airy when they need to be, pugilists when they must – as in the brief powerful piano run in “Limits,” by drummer/hand drums Jonas Abrahamson. He plays the piano the way a drummer would.
Americana influences? The 10-track Brave (Drops July 22–Roots & Ramblers Records) is sprinkled throughout this fine set with rootsy music excellently interpreted. “Northern Lights,” has a dynamic banjo tone that emanates from a sitar guitar (Henning). Played superbly throughout. A bit Gothic, a little Appalachian with a Swedish tint. With the title track “Brave,” the upbeat melody with accordion & vocal accompaniment by Canadian Wendy McNeill carves out an attractive Euro-exuberance.
But it’s Su’s vocal vivacity that’s the alchemy in these songs. She’s just a hearty, gutsy, sensitive, provocative chanteuse who hits all the targets like Annie Oakley. She touches on the descriptive street life of New York City the way Tom Waits describes life in L.A. Ms. Andersson doesn’t forget to be delicate & remains imaginative.
It can be construed as pop music, but it has a quality that supersedes the simplicity of that genre. The guitars on “Echoes,” are dramatic, prickly & assertive, held together by Jonas’ palpitating drums. Su’s high notes soar in the storm of notes. An exciting listen. Most importantly, Su sounds like no one. Her collaborators insure it. A true original. I’d listen to anything Ms. Andersson.
Her band includes – Eva-Maria Junker, Fia Ekberg & Naiika Sings (lead duet vocals) & Jaded Jane (vocals/piano on “Turquoise & and Rust”).
Produced by Su Andersson & Henning Sernhede. Recorded in Sweden (with Wendy in Spain & Naiika in NYC). The CD’s packaged in a hard-bound case with a lyric insert. Impressive package.
Photo: Ellika Henrikson. The 34-minute CD @ https://www.suandersson.com/