Jan Ekedahl,
(Sjelvar, 2003)

Guitarist Jan Ekedahl has a long history playing fingerstyle guitar. His influences include Donovan, American folk-rock and Irish and Swedish traditional music. He is one of the founders of Gunnfjauns Kapell, a Swedish folk group based on the island of Gotland.

Dubbelgangarn is a collection of his guitar pieces, some of which previously appeared on his 1985 album Gitarrfamiljen. Most are solos, but sometimes he has the assistance of fellow guitarist Mats Bergstrom.

Ekedahl's influences are blended together until it is impossible to tell what came from where. Some tracks may briefly hint at Irish music, for example, but they can't be described as "Celtic-sounding." Ekedahl calls the album "a promenade from picking to polska," and that description fits. The music is accessible and draws the listener in. The melodies have a direct emotional impact, even though the compositions themselves may be complex.

Much of the album is mellow music of the sort found on many fingerstyle albums, not that this is a bad thing. "Polska Till Agnes" is a gentle polska indeed, but the liner notes say, "For my daughter. Composed after she had finally gone to sleep." No wonder it's quiet! "A&O" was composed for the wedding of two friends. Bouncier fare includes "Hink och Spade," influenced by Pierre Bensusan, and the jaunty "Koltax." "Scengangarn" is a swing-inflected duet with Berglund. Ekedahl shows that he is equally comfortable with sweet gentle music and with more up-tempo numbers.

The liner notes, in both Swedish and English, are concise, but they include comments on each piece (as well as the tuning used), a biography of Ekedahl and an essay by him. Needless to say, guitarists will be particularly pleased by the inclusion of the tunings.

Any lover of fingerstyle guitar should enjoy this album. Ekedahl deserves an audience far beyond Sweden's shores for this fine recording.

- Rambles
written by Jennifer Hanson
published 6 March 2004