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Written in Folk Roots (when it was Southern Rag) issue 84, 1990

En Malsvelodi


This is what I like - the sort of record where four tracks in you still have no idea what's coming next. Actually, now it's six tracks and still it's making startling use of the dynamics of CD with funny, melodic, hefty, greasy playing and occasional songs understandable in any language. Norrlåtar (Northern Songs) is a seven-piece band from the north of Sweden; this is the most warm-hearted, unreservedly Scandinavian record I've ever heard. You could dance to it, too. Here's track seven - is that really a wobble-board? There's more: howling, deep intoning, wild fiddle, tuba, nyckelharpa, piano, concise guitar, birdsong, direct vocals, meaty percussion - an "80 by 70 by 0.5 glasfiberplatta" (ah, presumably the wobble-board), and throughout dry wit.
      It's not really any particular item, but the variety and sureness of touch of the whole, so fresh it's hard to believe that this is the band's seventh album. Apparently the first few were fairly straightforwardly traditional in approach; I've now heard, courtesy of the importer-to-be, Nordisc's Ralph Jordan, the two immediately preceding this, and they show very many promising signs, but here, I reckon, is the one.

© 1990 Andrew Cronshaw

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