Armadillo King (Sweden) - ‘A Drifters Tale’ (Album)
It's often the case that an artist 'onstage persona' will be very different to their 'real life' personality. It's a little known fact that Andrew Eldridge and Patricia Morrison from dark gothic duo Sisters of Mercy only took on that identity for musical appearances, and by day they were a children's party entertainment act known as 'The Giggle Twins'.
Swedish band Armadillo King, with their 'A Drifters Tale' release are probably far more straight forward, as their unique brand of 'Americana Noir' seems to suit their image and personality with an autobiographical feel to the songwriting,"following the progress of a man trying to get through regular life", or maybe a previous life, given one of the key influences songwriter Henning Ejnefjäll uses in his stories is that he was once told he was a bandit in an earlier reincarnation - I have no idea who told him this, but I'd like to hear that story too.
Anyway 'A Drifters Tale' seems a suitable enough title, opening with 'Now I'm Rolling', where previous challenges have been cast aside, and an optimistic journey begins - "In a far up Northern town, in a place where I was bound, I woke up with my arms tied inside a barn, now I'm rolling down the road." But things soon turn sour for our rollerblading drifter, murdering gold prospector'Little Joe' (I think he's Sleepy Joe's brother) because 'silver and gold make man a good liar". Yet the whole thing has an upbeat, rocking musical feel with a catchy chorus and a carefree feeling that make it really easy to listen to, and we're offered a similar style in the equally melodic 'Landslide'.
There's something appealing too about the weighty but always flowing instrumental support too, as we hear in "The Bad', and again the excellent'Ghost Town', with a thumping rhythmic backdrop, a swaggering chorus and more thought provoking lyrics - "There's time for worry and there's time to live in every every second your life will give, before your ghost comes around". The volume and energy is maintained in the equally powerful 'I've Come a Long Way', a celebration of the travelling way of life, whilst the concluding 'The Light Within My Heart' reflects on the darkness of the journey, but with a message of hope and a reminder that our murdering bandit is a big ol' softie really.
I thought 'A Drifters Tale' might be quite hard going, a little too dark in places, but that's certainly not the case, the tempo and even the lyrical content actually makes this a really easy album on the ear. The album simply rocks too, with big tunes, fabulous vocals and some great sounding guitars. And whilst the songs tell tales of a probably short lived travelling bandit, it is of course an allegory for modern life too, and there's a positivity to much of it, of not having regrets, toasting strangers, lovers and both the long road behind and ahead. Maybe that rumour I heard (or possibly created) that Armadillo King's 'gig rider' involves a request for Lemon Merangue Martinis and Pink Candyfloss isn't too far off the mark - because you never quite know where the journey will take you.