25 October 2008

REVIEW: Barr - Skogsbo is the Place

It’s a dreary autumn day here at Casa Bill’s Prog Blog, and it’s appropriate weather for a new CD that just arrived in the post today all the way from Sweden.

The group is called Barr, the album is titled Skogsbo is the Place. It’s a somber, mellow, melancholic 43-minute exploration of pastoral acoustic landscapes, where the skies grow gray, the winds begin to blow with a slight chill, and the sun lies low and tired in the west.

Yes, I’m poetic today. Deal with it.

I blame the music, really. This is gorgeous stuff, even though it is so somber and sad. Dual vocals, male and female, sing with a detachment that is disarming at first, yet on repeated listens just…works. Hearing harmonium featured so prominently in the music is a nice change of pace…it adds an almost funereal aspect to the music that is amazingly fitting. “Summerwind” sets the table for the musical feast to follow, sadness and despair dripping off the bare branches of the arrangement. “Words would do” is beautiful, gentle acoustic guitar, piano and brushed drums resting quietly under pleading vocals from Patrik Andersson.

If you’re looking for an extended track, the album closer “Sister – Lovers alone” would be right up your alley. At just over 10 minutes, it is the album’s longest track, and it feels far shorter than its length would indicate. Andersson and Hanna Fritzson sing wonderfully together…her voice is sweet and pure, while his vocals evoke sadness and loss without sounding forced.

I am really enjoying this record, and if that sounds odd considering that I am constantly mentioning how somber and melancholic it is, well, so be it. There can be incredible beauty in sadness, and I think the members of Barr realise this. Skogsbo is the Place is filled with this dark beauty, and while it may not be something I could bring myself to come back to time and time again, it’s nice to know that there’s something suitable for me musically when I need it.

If you like bands like Pentangle or Fairport Convention, check Barr out.

Words would do

He ain’t a friend, he’s a brother

Calling my name

Skogsbo is the place


Sister – Lovers alone

Patrik Andersson - vocals, guitar

Andreas Söderström - vocals, harmonium

Marcus Palm - vocals, 12-string acoustic

Oskar Schönning / Svante Söderqvist - double bass

Fredrik Ohlsson - percussion, drums

Hanna Fritzson - vocals, piano, flute, glockenspiel



Anonymous said...

Windham Hill CDs do the same thing to me...('Angels' / 'Romance').
George Winston material can, too, check him out.
I've found some really good "samplers" out there, too, in bargin bins at Meijer or K-Mart or wherever, that really suprise me or relax me. Call it New Age; but, I'm not into the CDs you see out there all about nature sounds or whatever.
Yes, music can really help the weary mind, or whatever state you're in there's probably some music out there for you. But now that I'm older, 47, music isn't as important to me as it used to be, but I still love it, perform and play it. I'm not giving up on it. Just imagine how music will be in heaven if there is one.
PS. And folks do all kinds of things with music on in the background: work, love, etc.

Anonymous said...

this is gorgeous music - we went to sweden and saw these guys live, supporting iron and wine. they were perfect. this review is spot-on. gentle soothing melodies, beautiful orchestration and playing, and vocals that yearn and pull but never moan or shout. cheers, rosie and matt, fallen leaves.

Bill K. said...

Thanks :-)

I think there is something to be said for bands that work on exploring the domains of light and shadow. There is so much that can be done with contrasting mood that can be every bit as intense and the most grandiose display of instrumental wizardry...sometimes even more intense.