March 15, 2019
Daniel Norgren – Wooh Dang
Sweden’s Daniel Norgren has released a really interesting record. No newcomer, he released his first record in 2006. You could call his sound stripped down but analogies with Scandi Noir are more satisfying – simple, precise, initially bleak, uncluttered and on occasion conveying a complex emotion.
“Blue Sky Moon” conjures the opening sequence of a detective drama with a single bold female stumbling around an abandoned holiday cottage in the waning light of dusk. A single note accompanied by bird song and other electronica may be more Steve Wilson than Steve Earle but this brief instrumental introduction had me hooked. Apparently Norgren decamped to a farmhouse in South West Sweden to lay all this down with three other musicians. Maybe a rustic unpolished vibe was the one he was after.
The single “The Flow” reminded me of a rough hewn Kurt Vile meets Neil Young. Kurt Vile for the hypnotic rhythm created by bass and cymbals; old Shakey for the plaintive vocal, back in the mix, and the After The Gold Rush piano. Beguiling.
After the melancholy of the opening songs “Dandelion Time” changes the vibe and delivers a Dr John groove. A skinny guitar maintains a riff pattern with sax and drums driving this along. Just need to add broiled shrimps and a PBR and we’re in NOLA. “Rolling Rolling Rolling” has a soulful groove. Norgren’s voice has an attractive yet slightly frayed timbre. It truly is an instrument of beauty. The ballad “So Glad” is sung over an organ which plays one or two chords with a sparse piano delivering the melody. This simple arrangement needs a wistful tune and a compelling voice to make it work. It does.
“Let Love Run The Game” is rock n’ roll. John Lennon might have recorded something like this in his latter years – raw, great melody and drenched with a soulful blues feel. The variety of sounds make this Americana; “When I Hold You In My Arms” takes us south of the border. An acoustic latin lilt (and soppy lyrics) encourages you to take her in your arms. If this had played out with a Mariachi band it would have been sublime.
“Wooh Dang” is a rough instrumental recording with a slightly distorted piano, which plays us out quietly. Now imagine the camera panning out as the aforementioned heroine leaves the bleak island and we watch as the seagulls fly around the stern of the ferry as she becomes a smaller fragile figure.
Throughout Norgren harnesses his talents to that vital ingredient: a tune. New to me; this and his last album Alabursy are an undoubted find. Catch up: this is important.