Sofia Karlsson - Svarta Ballader (Black Ballads)
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Sofia Karlsson
Svarta Ballader (Black Ballads)
Amigo (

cd cover Sofia Karlsson belongs to the young canon of great Swedish folk singers. On this recording she has invited celebrated musicians including Esbjörn Hazelius, Ale Möller, Lena Willemark, Lisa Rydberg and Leo Svensson. But don't let these names fool you, this is not a folk music album in the usual sense. The songs are all based on the popular lyrics of Dan Andersson (1888 - 1920.) He put little of his writing to music in his lifetime, and hence a great number of singers have interpreted and written melodies for his poetry over the years. Seven different composers stand behind the eleven poems on Svarta Ballader, which gives great variety and personality to the music. The instrumentation is diverse and there are some unusual, creative combinations including a saw and a pedal steel guitar. Esbjörn Hazelius is featured on most tracks; most other guests appear only a few times each. Arranging it this way, Sofia Karlsson achieves diversity and the lyrics are what links everything together.

Dan Andersson's words are rich in imagery. Joyous, dreamy scenes including nature, music, children and women convey his important religious faith. He believed a better world followed this one. He was poor throughout his life and described the world from underneath.

The songs may all be different, but they have one commonality, Karlsson's warm and caring voice. The hundred year old words of Dan Andersson are young and natural when presented to us by the singer. The music accompanying the vocals serves as a background accentuating what is said and at times this interplay becomes magical, as in "Omkring tiggaren från Loussa..." where a jazz-quintet bubbles quietly with restrained yearning. The concluding "Minnet" is stunning. If you close your eyes, you can feel Sofia Karlsson, her voice hovering near you. Standing next to her is Dan Andersson, smiling. - Staffan Jonsson

CD available from cdRoots

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