Band | Sweden
There is a great succession of musical discoveries coming out of Sweden, and it never ceases to amaze. The three women and two men forming "Dearest Sister" combine jazz skills with songwriting sensibility. Their music of is a prime example of a current development - extremely able young musicians with open minds and ears are applying the rigour and the tools from their jazz training to find a sound world that is very distinct from jazz. And whereas their music unavoidably looks straight in the eye at the influences, themes and issues affecting their generation, these artists also deftly avoid another trap: they steer clear of the usual production methods of mainstream pop in favor of a much more distinct, grounded approach. The result is what many listeners are longing to hear: authenticity, originality and emotional depth.
The core of Dearest Sister is a very special creative duo: singer/keyboardist Andrea Hatanmaa and pianist Ylva Almcrantz. Their debut album "Collective Heart" is a result of the close and ongoing collaboration between the two young band co-leaders, but the pair are also complemented by a highly sensitive band. The range of songs is striking in its breadth, and songs can often take very unexpected turns as they evolve vast Nordic soundscapes alternate with "walls of sound". The engine room, giving propulsion to the band, is the groove from drummer Liam Amner: sometimes delicate, sometimes off-kilter and occasionally extraordinarily driven. Joakim Lissmyr plays bowed or plucked double bass, and flugelhornist Ellen Pettersson plays soft melodies which she extends and enhances electronically. And among this we hear an almost classical, enchanting brass interlude, or a synth line and a cluster enhanced by effects. One might start to wonder if there is too much going on. But the arrangements are so intelligently constructed, their components so carefully chosen and the execution so clear and organic that the music, despite its many elements, always seems approachable, complete, and coherent.
"Collective Heart" is a fascinating and emotionally affecting album. We find a joy in experimentation, and musical curiosity and open-mindedness. These are strong musicians who can offer the listener surprising contrasts and great authenticity. This is music in a constant state of evolution and discovery.
Dearest Sister (Band), Ylva Almcrantz (keys), Liam Amner (drums), Andrea Hatanmaa (voice), Sebastian Hegedüs (guitar), Linnea Jonsson (trumpet), Joakim Lissmyr (bass)