Select Captain - 'Strings and Feathers'
Another artist we've featured previously is Danish songwriter Kristian Gaarskjær and his creation 'Select Captain', and in many ways there are similarities in his new album 'Strings and Feathers' to the ' A Tightrope Wish' album by Swedish band Cape Conrad which we reviewed yesterday. This is artist that I feel instantly comfortable with when listening to his music, his elegant Americana / Indie songwriting is easy to listen to, and it's songwriting which feels fairly traditional too and based around 'real' instruments - not that there would be anything wrong if it wasn't, obviously. His music is akin to sitting on your favourite sofa on a Friday night with a glass of red wine, or perhaps the Americana feel means it should be Bourbon, but you get the drift...
The strength of the album, as expected from Select Captain, is in the consistency of the tracks and the reassurance of the confident rounded vocals. But these tracks have an added dimension to them from previous releases, firstly the early 90's Indie influence that we noticed in '40 Nights' comes through on a few tracks, and I think that is to the albums benefit. And as Select Captain's songwriting develops as a band, I feel that their overall sound is maturing too, it feels more complete, and the addition of occasional fleeting strings works really well too.
I won't cover all tracks, as this is a band we've written a fair bit about previously, but 'Slide' is the first track that really captures my attention - as normal the melodies in both verse and chorus are strong, but actually the songwriting style reminds me of a number of similar bands of that 90s era - maybe there's even an acoustic Idlewild in there somewhere. 'Pretty' maybe shows more of its American Folk roots though, and I really like the subtlety of the cello in 'I Hear, I Hear', and it's accompanied by stripped back instrumentation that works well. However it's the track Strings and Feathers' which is a real highlight - a chunking guitar line, a big melody and that familiar Travis style Banjo as they hit the chorus. And proving that Select Captain are never short of good tunes, they then offer a soulful ballad in 'Out of the Way', with a real emphasis on the lyrics. The concluding track 'Where I'm Bound' is a thoughtful, considered track that completes the album.
OK, so this is not going to be the type of album that contains a string of killer Singles which catapult the album on to your national mainstream music radio stations. These are mature, convincing and well written tracks that suit the format of a traditional long player album really well, rather than your 'throwaway' playlists or You Tube videos. So tomorrow night, relax, pour yourself a glass of your favourite refreshment and give 'Strings and Feathers' a complete listen, we hope you'll like it as much as we do.
Nordic Music Review 8/10