Armadillo King 🇸🇪- ‘Forever with Me’ (Album)
We've followed songwriter Henning Ejnefjäll and his band Armadillo King around for a few years now, and he's been on quite a journey. We spotted him wandering aimlessly up Margate High Street searching the charity shops for a new (or old) hat, then he was rollerblading through the mid west on a murderous rampage that involved Sleepy Joe's brother, and finally we spotted him in person sipping Lemon Merangue Martini's with bandmates after a rocking gig at a basement bar in downtown Stockholm.
Now I guess for legal reasons I should reluctantly point out that none of this is entirely true, but his music always sets my imagination racing, because he paints such vivid pictures through his words and music, often written as a 3rd person telling stories of an imaginary (or not) previous life. But his new album 'Forever with Me' is very different, written following the passing of his father, with Henning pouring his energy and emotions into the project as part of the process of dealing with the grief.
The result is very different. No longer do we view Henning Ejnefjäll as a character from a different era or fictional story, instead in 'Forever With Me' we hear his own story, as well of course those of his father, a heartfelt tribute to not just a paternal figure, but a friend and 'comrade'. For me it reaches a peak with the anthemic and soulful 'I'll Find You in Heaven', a centrepiece of sorts, but actually the middle section of the album is particularly powerful lyrically and musically.
He deals with his loss head on in 'Hole in the Ground', mixing reflection with the harsh reality of grief:"there's a hole in the ground, where the ashes can be found, where my father is buried, deep way down". Then he digs really deep in the soul searching'Two Lives Apart', which musically benefits from a lovely saxophone contribution - and actually there are some lovely 'additional' musical contributions throughout.
Musically there's some gorgeous moments, with 'Inner Peace' a melodic highlight, a beautifully judged and understated song, which benefits from the stripped back arrangements to allow Ejnefjäll's fabulous vocals and lyrics to take centre stage alongside that tune. Meanwhile the upbeat catchy chorus in 'The Magic' reminds me of something that New Model Army would come up with at their best, and that's a pretty big compliment around here.
I've referenced 'I'll Find You In Heaven', and it's the track that hits home the most, lyrically direct ("I'll find you in Heaven.... if I get in"), with powerful vocals and building to an intense climax. It does need a 'release' after, and the almost euphoric 'Dying to Live Again' offers this, an anthem that encourages us 'to give it all you got'. Almost inevitably the album then ends in reflection with 'With YouTonight' and 'Leave a Light On', a simple track lyrically which reminds us that that grief surrounds us all.
Of course I can't deny I do miss the characters that Armadillo King normally writes about, and I'm sure it won't be long before Henning dons his hat and heads back a few hundred years to South Dakota to tell us stories of Potato Creek Johnny and Big Nose Kate. But for now some things are more important, and this is simply a lovely tribute to his father. Whether your favourite tipple is gin, beer or indeed a Lemon Merangue Martini, we should all raise a glass to the both of them.
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