Lena Willemark, Jonas Knutsson, Mats Öberg : Alla Drömmars Sång
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Lena Willemark, Jonas Knutsson, Mats Öberg
Alla Drömmars Sång
Country and Eastern (www.countryandeastern.se)

Although the title of this latest project means “Song of Dreams,” the music is as real as it gets. Swedish folk revival queen Lena Willemark joins forces with saxophonist Jonas Knutsson and keyboardist Mats Öberg for a program of timeless, mostly original tunes, plus an unexpected dip into the English popular songbook. What might in others' hands pass for fleeting ditties here become full-blown narratives with beginnings, middles, and ends. That the recording was made in a single day speaks further to the ebullient spirit uniting them.

Whether in the expanse of “Norrskensbrand” (Fire of Northern Lights) or the rousing “Laungga Tid” (Long Time), Willemark's unmistakable voice and music make us aware of the land as living organism. In her words, too, we find much to admire: expressions of sky and land, love and experience, nature and contact intermingle until their borders become indistinguishable. She plays with those borders most overtly in the salted whoops and cries of “Ja-ia,” a boisterous paean to life. If she is the soil, then Öberg and Knutsson are the rain. The latter offers two tunes that engage the singer in flowing dance. “Limberg” makes the best case for the pianistic side of the triangle. Its doubling guides a wayfaring reed as Willemark careens overhead, a hawk with a purpose. The buoyant soprano saxophone of “Kambhoji” offers up the album's most irresistible theme, picked up by fiddle and keys in a braid that epitomizes the trio's uplifting spirit. Öberg's “Stugan” (The Cottage) continues in the same vein, and his harmonica playing on “Jag Unnar Dig” (I Wish You), the album's only traditional tune, informs the raspy song like a stalk of thistle bending to the wind. The 1963 Beatles hit “All My Loving” rounds out the program, fitting seamlessly into the puzzle with jazzy overtones. Wonderful.

It's worth noting that this album was overseen by Bengt Berger, an important Swedish musician-turned-producer whose influences span continents and whose anthropological integrity lends presence to the extroverted and free sound of the recording. - Tyran Grillo

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