As regular Nordic Music Review readers will know, I normally have to listen to an album about 6 times before I feel I know it enough to review it. But sometimes it takes even longer and with Swedish band, Days of Elisa, with it's gentle paced 60s influenced acoustic folk, I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve listened to ‘As Opposed To Going Down’ since the album was released in mid September. It's an unusual and thought provoking album, the creation of which started 3 years ago after some extraordinary events which involved a brutal attack on singer songwriter Lars Åhlund. The event over time inspired him to write music about his recovery, and whilst he would clearly never want to go through the trauma again, he has used the experience positively in the creation of the 10 songs on the album.
If you like well written, delicate and never 'brash' acoustic folk, with occasional strings and creative instrumentation, you should probably give this a listen. Opening with ‘Healing Wounds’, we get an immediate insight into the theme of the album, and the mindset of the songwriter - 'It’s up to me they say, to heal the wounds made by man', and the song with its organ and brass instrumentation almost has a solemn funereal or gospel hymn quality to it. But whilst the theme is melancholy there already seems room for optimism - 'It's up to me to be myself again' with a recognition that many of the scars are psychological and will come from within. And with that we move on to the music, 'Bottled baby soul' has a soft 60s influenced acoustic guitar and a lovely cello part, and already the feel of the songwriting is more positive. And by the time we get to 'Money' ‘Days of Elisa’ introduce handclapping and an almost frenzied acoustic guitar solo.
But the musical highlights of the album are still to come. I love 'Black Painted Pearl', a sad and sorrowful waltz – ‘When I danced with you, all my dreams came true, now you're dancing with someone new'. And if there's one track you probably will want to listen to, it's 'Under Control' with the most beautifully arranged string quartet, it is an outstanding track. My personal favourite comes next, 'My Heart' with a gorgeous piano theme and a lovely melody to go alongside it - 'nothing is stronger than my stone cold heart', and I love the way the theme from 'Taken from a Movie' is cleverly introduced at the end of the track. But actually the strength of ‘As Opposed To Going Gown' is the Album as a complete entity, listening to the swings of emotion and expressive lyrics and sounds.
'As Opposed To Going Down' is a nicely written album, without question sad at times but also uplifting and life affirming – it is slightly curious in places too. It will not take the music world by storm, nor was it ever meant to and no doubt it will be too melancholy for some. The theme and the story behind it give it some intensity, and it is successful in positively charting the recovery from the physical and psychological wounds following the attack. The band quite simply makes a really lovely sound, the instrumentation is well thought through, and the cello parts (and occasional brass) add an attractive texture. This album in so many ways is an achievement, and its been a real pleasure in getting to know it slowly over time – and having got to know it so well, I’m now even more interested in the next chapter.
Nordic Music Review 7.5 /10
You can also buy a lovely vinyl version of the album by going to the following place:
Album and logo design: Stellan Von Reybekiel