The Daily Roxette reviews En vacker natt
Tis time for another TDR round table review of a Roxette related release. This time it’s the brand new Per Gessle album En vacker natt which will be released Friday April 28.
Thomas: Here it is: Per Gessle’s first Swedish solo album in 10 years. Yes the last Swedish solo effort was En händig man, out 2007. Feels like yesterday really. Lots have happened since; Roxette came and went, Gyllene came back from its dusty (rusty?) cage. Per released another solo album in English, Party Crasher, with a tour. And now En vacker natt recorded in Nashville, Tennessee this winter. Wow! Even if I did somehow expect this, I didn’t expect this! Very airy and laid back. Lots of pedal steel, which due to my upbringing, I’m fortunately/unfortunately partial to. No power-pop in sight. What’s closest I guess is “Första pris” and maybe “Tittar på dej när du dansar”. I get the feeling that this is a driving-at-night-in-the-rain album. Per’s own favorite track is “Allt gick så fort” and calls it the nexus, the catalyst, of the albums. “Without this song the albums wouldn’t have been recorded at all.” My favorite? Hard to say, but I like “Första pris” and “Några glas rosé”. Oh and by the way, Stevo won’t join in on this as he’s been fired for stealing my pink post-its…
Colin: This is as laid back as it gets. The album starts with some great traditionals and keeps a laid back southern style throughout. The featured ‘country style’ violin solos really are a treat, I never imagined to hear this on a Per Gessle record but I’m loving it – it’s the best of both worlds. Close your eyes and you’re drinking a cool glass of sweet tea on a hot summer night on your porch at sunset.
Thomas: Yes, Per’s music certainly benefits from staying away from Skåne, even if the post production is done there. As Per himself said in DN the other day: “I didn’t feel like going back there again” when Roxette stopped touring. Åsa had also told him he had spent 400+ days there. Plus he had no new material to record.
The album is obviously very organic. It will be sort of hard to review this album song by song, since this is an entity in its own, but of course I’ll give it a shot.
Paul: Well, for those expecting the usual Per Gessle power-pop will be disappointed. What we have here are 8 songs that are not typical-Gessle. Yes, the melodies and vocals are, mainly, typical PG, but we have not heard this type of production before. I really wasn’t sure what to expect when the album was announced. Unsurprisingly, I love what I hear! I’m also glad that Per has dared to move away from Skåne. You can certainly hear the inspiration in these recordings that he has gained from recording in not only a different studio, but a totally different country. And full kudos to Helena – as usual her vocals add another level to the album.
I know this album is part 1 of 2, but I want the other 8 songs now! I want to fully experience what Per has created. September seems so far away!
1. Min plats
Thomas: One of Per’s favorites. Lovely fiddle and pedal steel, very soft and very country, with acoustic guitars and keyboards. Cute lyrics about someone’s “special place”. The feeling of this song is very much like the single “Småstadsprat”, although more positive. I like it a lot.
Colin: I can imagine, it’s one of mine, too! This is the song that invites you to a porch somewhere special and sets the tone. At the same time, in a way it feels a bit like going back to Per’s first solo record.
Paul: You’re right Colin. This could easily sit alongside Per Gessle from 1983. Listening to the album I get the urge to sit outside around a log fire in the evening and just enjoy. Laid back and relaxed. Imagine listening to these songs interspersed with the instrumental songs from the Small Apartments soundtrack – magical!
2. Första pris (duet with Helena Josefsson)
Thomas: Now this is one of my favorites. Fully orchestrated and of course a duet with Helena. It has some of Anders’ “digital phlum” on it… yeah I can’t even begin to translate that, sorry.
Paul: This is definitely up there as a favorite! Nice melody again.
Colin: Per and Helena are a match made in heaven, a lovely romantic song. Not too slow, not too fast. The violin touches exactly all the right spots here.
3. Småstadsprat (duet with Lars Winnerbäck)
Thomas: Ah yes, the single. Still like this. The lyrics are nice. Sad, but true. Lasse Winnerbäck is a huge Per-fan and also comes from a small town so it’s fitting the song. Of course. Also very acoustic, with the ever-present pedal steel in the background. Helena whispers the chorus “Ny tussilago” like an angel.
Colin: Thumbs up! I love the duets on this album and Helena tops it off perfectly. Lots of Nashville going on here.
Paul: A beautiful song with both voices working well together. Not being Swedish and having a basic understanding of the language means that sometimes I can’t fully appreciate the true meaning behind the songs. With a ‘normal’ Per album that doesn’t really matter as the words are not as personal. This album is different. As the lyrics are personal, a non-Swede will miss out on the full experience. The lyrics to this song are lovely, if a bit on the sad side. Watch the official video to get the gist – it’s very moving!
Thomas: As sad as one can get I guess.
4. Enkel resa
Thomas: Does anyone remember the old song “Blåa jeans och röda läppar”? This is it! New melody by Per, MP wrote the chord progressions, and reworked lyrics, but mainly the same. I was thinking about the ‘90s (?) song by Lili & Sussie when I read this title, but thankfully it wasn’t a cover! This sounds like it would have fit well on Party Crasher actually, or why not on a Keith Urban album.
Colin: The demo with the same title was released on the bonus disc for Per’s solo box set På väg. Apparently black jeans and nails are the modern equivalent of blue jeans and red lips? So much has changed. Great night-time driving song.
Paul: Love the fake intro! You think this is going to be a dreamy song, but it suddenly changes to become something much different. Mid-tempo I guess. Great lyrics again!
5. Allt gick så fort
Thomas: Again, Per’s favorite track and the catalyst of the two albums. “Every album must have a catalyst song”. – a song that you build the album around. Acoustic guitars and some keyboards. Not my favorite. I like the lyrics, but the arrangement is too jazzy for my taste. I know, Per will kick my butt for that, but I’ll try to stand my ground.
Colin: I’m with you Thomas! I wonder if he got the idea of going to Nashville while writing this song? The song is beautiful and fits the atmosphere of the album, especially “Min plats”.
Paul: Whilst the song is nice, I tend to agree with Thomas on this one. Not my favorite on the album, but that doesn’t mean that the song is bad. The opposite really, but something doesn’t quite fit for me. It certainly does fit on this project though.
Thomas: Somehow it reminds me of “Var blev du av?”.
6. Tittar på dej när du dansar
Thomas: And we’re back to pop music again! Could’ve been on Mazarin or En händig man. I enjoy this a lot. There’s also a new mantra in it: Mahi Nana Mahi Nana – that is the sound of love. Next single? Funny thought: the intro makes me think of a TV jingle! Also funny is that the song somehow has two different choruses (chori?). Per really goes all in in “tittar på dej när du dansar!!” Come to think of it, I think this is my new favorite.
Colin: For a moment there, I thought I had accidentally skipped to Mazarin! Not just the song itself but also the overall sound and production. Great song, earworm! And a flute!
Paul: Here we go! This is as upbeat as the album gets. A quick shift of the gear after “Allt gick så fort”. There is certainly something to be said for the way that Per and Helena’s vocals mix and go together. Totally different to Roxette, but equally brilliant. Could this be played during the upcoming tour? Would be great to hear it live!
Thomas: Fingers crossed…
7. Några glas rosé
Thomas: Another favorite (both mine and Per’s even), with great lyrics about falling in love over a few glasses of rosé wine. The fiddle is there, and so is the pedal steel. Helena’s voice is magnificent soaring in the background.
Colin: I guess rosé is this album’s companion drink, then (I’ll happily oblige, of course). The Beautiful pedal steel. The fiddle solo here adds extra layer of emotion, beautiful.
Thomas: The Orbison-style guitar sound in this adds something extra too, and also the amazing fiddle player.
Paul: It definitely does. Back to my earlier comment about sitting round a log fire whilst listening to the album. Pass me the wine.
Thomas: Really, you need more wine?
Paul: Yes Thomas, this album demands the wine…
8. Far Too Close (duet with Savannah Church)
Thomas: This doesn’t really fit the album, or should I say – this is how I thought the entire album would sound like, but as Per wanted an homage to Nashville I can see why it’s here. Now, Savannah Church, whom I’ve never heard of, has a voice that is to die for! The melody and her voice just make you want to cry. Then after half of the song Per steps in. And according to the fella who just got fired and sits sulking in another room, he shouldn’t have… Ha ha! I can imagine this song could get loads of airplay in the south. Per wanted Alison Krauss, by the way, but for some reason that didn’t pan out.
Colin: I haven’t heard of Savannah Church either, but Alison Krauss should watch out because this is beautiful. It’s a bit strange to have one English track end a Swedish album, I wonder what the thought behind that is – single maybe? I wonder if this was originally intended as a Roxette song.
Thomas: As far as Per said in an interview there aren’t any Roxette leftovers here. On the other hand, he said in another interview that both “Första pris” and this were just that – unrecorded Roxette songs so what do I know eh? And I forgot to mention it’s in the classical 6/8 beat!
Paul: I really need to stop imagining what this song would sound like with Marie on vocals. Savannah does a fantastic job on the vocals and it becomes even more impressive when you know that it only took 20 minutes to record. Stunning voice and suits this song perfectly. A nice tender ballad with a typical Per melody. Love it!
What more can we add? Just that it’s going to be great to get to hear the remaining 8 tracks from these recording sessions. Will this sell? Doubtfully, but hopefully. Is it good? No doubt, this is great. It’s almost Per 2.0. Will Roxette’s fans like it? Not necessarily. Is that a bad thing? You decide. This is likely the most personal we’ve heard Per, ever. No sha-la-la-las here and it ain’t no The World According to Gessle either. If we have to compare (and we don’t) the closest you get is likely Son of a Plumber, with brooding lyrics, without Jo-Anna.
But Per, snap out of this “a short album is the bomb!” thing. We want longer pieces than 32 min! Not even Lennon/McCartney’s albums were this short…
Also Stevo says he likes the album. Yeah buddy, we don’t care.