J. Asling,
Roots & Friends: The Stockholm Sessions
(DO REcords, 2015)

I don't know how big a blues tradition Sweden has but I do know it's big enough to have produced J. Asling, and that's a very good thing because The Stockholm Sessions is one fine album indeed.

His blues band supplemented by Marcus Edring's 5-string banjo and dobro, Agnes Berg's electric violin and Sven Zetterberg's harmonica, Asling shoots for spontaneity on this album. The 13 cuts, all Asling-composed originals, were recorded in two days live in the studio, in one to three takes each and no overdubs.

The results are spectacular and wonderfully varied. Some of the songs bring to mind Mumford & Sons before they grew to hate the banjo, while the instrumentals that feature Sven-Eric Lundekvist's Hammond organ remind me of what Georgie Fame used to do before his stint as Van Morrison's musical director. There's some traditional 12-bar blues and some fine ballads. Asling and friends even dip into rockabilly and a little Chuck Berry '50s rock. And you haven't heard fun 'til you hear a Chuck Berry-style solo on 5-string banjo.

The approach to the music is loose and spontaneous, with an improvised quality to it, but the band is tight, a carefully structured unit of individuals who bring it all with them and contribute it all to the group. The arrangements bristle with energy, originality and surprise.

If Asling is representative of what's happening in the Swedish blues scene, we should all go there immediately.

music review by
Michael Scott Cain

14 November 2015

Agree? Disagree?
Send us your opinions!

what's new