Hopefully our longer term readers will remember that we've written about Sara Forslund a few times, most notably when she released her beautiful 2015 album 'Water Became Wild', which was followed up by a rather successful (even if we say so ourselves...) Nordic Music Review organised gig at the lovely Nordic Church in Liverpool - we must consider going back there at some point. Anyway it has taken her rather longer than any of us would have wanted to release her follow up 'Summer is Like a Swallow', but it arrived in the latter parts of 2018 and we're delighted to (finally) write about it.
I must admit I was slightly nervous when I was first sent notes on the new album, which suggested that it would be slightly different as it would be 'augmented by electronic parts' - one of the many things I loved about the first album was it's minimalist simplicity. But of course I needn't have worried, because the electronic elements have been so subtly infused in to the music that you barely notice them, and they are generally a positive contribution to an album which still retains the most natural and organic feel to it.
I’m definitely not going to go through the album track by track in detail, because this is an album which really has to be listened to – and as I think I said with ‘Water Became Wild’, it needs to be turned up really loud on multiple speakers to allow it to take over every ‘nook and cranny’ of your house. It is also the collective effect of all 10 tracks which will allow you to get consumed, rather than the impact of one track. ‘River of Dreams’ opens the album, and immediately I feel comforted by the familiarity of guitar style and soft voice, whilst ‘Summer is Like A Swallow’ has the most gorgeous hazy melody and a beautiful lyrical quality with the emphasis on the words ‘I gave you my heart’, it really is cleverly thought through.
The quality of songs is maintained in ‘Seagull’ where the electronic elements add to the texture of the sound, whilst the instrumental effects in the stripped back 'Know' help paint such a vision of the dreamy world Sara Forslund is trying to create in our minds. Vocally she is really in her element in tracks such as 'Hard', whilst in Achilles Heel', a subtle cello adds an extra dimension to the sound. But maybe the most haunting and beautiful song on the album is 'Toad', which I love both lyrically and musically - the musical theme has stayed in my mind all day, whilst every word is so precisely and thoughtfully delivered. The instrumental section which completes the track is unusual and draws the album to a conclusion in a really delightful way.
I did expect that 'Summer is Like A Swallow' would be a success, and it absolutely is, with the most delicate of vocals, melodies and instrumentation all combining to produce a beautifully constructed set of songs. Sara Forslund seems to view the world from a slightly different elevation to the rest of us and that allows a unique and always personal perspective, that considers love, life and happiness through a dreamy vision of the natural world. I hope this album didn't get lost in the sheer wealth of releases towards the end of last year, because she will always be one of the songwriters we most respect at Nordic Music Review, and 'Summer is Like a Swallow' is definitely worth getting totally lost in.
Nordic Music Review 9/10