Roots & Ramblers 2022
Swedish chanteuse delivers a series of odes to our post-pandemic outlook to capture its spirit with her architect eye.
Sculpting a song out of ether may be akin to structuring a building but Su Andersson seems to find more delight in the former art lately, leaving her original latter for a different studio experience and delivering first the travelogue of “Train Stories” in 2020, on the verge of Covid, and then this, her sophomore effort that could feel static if not for the sense of constant movement in its pieces. Presented as a hardcover book, “Brave” is deceptively designed for listening to while seated on the porch – an approach which would ruin the platter’s very intent of lending the loner-listener a hand, picking them up and letting go of recent woes, all in a little longer than half an hour.
So though it’s tempting to get cozy to “Japanese Tea” where Sue’s serious, slightly parched tones are seeping through the veil of dewdrop piano and mando guitar to detail the problem of hosting guests during lockdown, the unsettling air will eventually set in the lyrical grooves the Scandinavian lady painstakingly constructs here. That’s why Andersson straps on an acoustic six-string and strums away, serenading somebody this singer used to know – perhaps even herself – in the boisterous, sitar-spiced “Southern Belle” where she shares sultry vocal duties with Eva-Maria Junker over a full-on multi-instrumental wave courtesy of co-producer Henning Sernhede and invites Maja Granberg to spike the vaudevillian “Scissors” with a contrasting voice.
And this is why the misty-eyed scene of “Bread And Butter” – in which the Swede’s admitting to “making music that’ll be floating like silk between the mountain to the sea” and to which Ryan Edmonds’ tenor and cornet add romanticism – can sound too mournful before the equally sad start of “Limits” has to give way to a defiant romp via what should come across like a reverie in our here and now, with the boogie-shaped assistance from Jonas Abrahamsson’s ivories. His drums drive the country-cum-raga of “Northern Light” towards irresistible cleansing light and lead the accordion-smeared and mandolin-caressed title track to the hootenanny, yet there’s stately solemnity in “Echoes” that sees Sue pine for a walk in NYC and Naiika Sings pour soul counterpoints to her swirling choruses until electric grandeur reigns supreme.
Compared to it, “Turquoise And Rust” boils down to a warm and rustic, but robust, sonic imagery, Andersson turning to Jaded Jane for a duet in the end, for “Missing It All” to unexpectedly bristle with sharp riffs and burst into unbridled rocking. The result is brave, indeed, the album shining as befits one of the highlights of post-pandemic landscape: a brilliant milestone of 2022.