Guess what, another band from Sweden has found its way into my CD player. My latest discovery is the band Barr (Swedish for pine needle) and this is their first album entitled Skogsbo is the Place. I must say the name of the band is spot on. While listening I imagined myself in a forest with the soft breeze drifting through the trees. This music has the ability to transport you to another place. Peaceful, tranquil, moody, soft, lush, melodic, atmospheric, melancholic are some of the words that describe this music. It is quite beautiful with lots of lilting melodies created by acoustic guitar, flute and piano thus forming a soft musical base from which they create their compositions. The harmonium also seems to be used extensively adding some uniqueness to their sound. Another plus for the band are its pleasing vocals (lyrics in English), both male and female. The background harmonies are always tasteful and melodic and add richness to the various songs. The music has a definite folk influence mixed with progressive elements and a little bit of psychedelia and should provide some interest for music listeners who prefer the mellower side of prog. All of the tunes are quiet to mid tempo and do not stray too far from that formula which creates a nice flow to the album. Some songs build gradually to soft-like crescendos but I must stress this is an extremely mellow affair so do not be looking for ripping solos because you will not find them here.
As far as individual songs, they are all quite good, with none that I would consider filler. The album's first song, "Summerwind", has gentle vocals and a nice somber melody. The vocals on this release are a definite highlight for me and are especially effective in the tune "Words Would Do", especially when the singer uses the lower registry. Various forms of percussion are also used throughout the album like in "He Ain't a Friend, He's a Brother" where congas are used to create a nice touch. The acoustic guitar here is very good. Getting back to the vocals, I absolutely love the way they are used in the background of "Calling My Name" and the gentle lead vocals of Hanna Fritzson are very nice. And so it goes for the rest of this disc.
This is a very good album especially when you consider this is their first. The future does indeed seem bright for these musical Swedes. I can safely recommend this if you prefer music on the mellower side of the spectrum and/or you are into bands like Pentangle or Fairport Convention. A well earned four stars for this one.
1) Summerwind (6:04)
2) Words Would Do (4:31)
3) He Ain't a Friend, He's a Brother (6:04)
4) Calling My Name (6:49)
5) Skogsbo Is The Place (3:02)
6) Moonfall (6:53)
7) Sister – Lovers Alone (10:28)