So often music is associated with where it comes from. Thus you get a Liverpudlian beat scene, Oasis and Happy Mondays forever associated with the Manchester sound, and certain periods of Bowie‘s, Iggy‘s and Reed‘s careers can never be mentioned without adding Berlin somewhere along the line.
Amandine on the other hand play roots music, and more specifically American roots music despite coming from Sweden. If you didn’t know better you’d swear that whoever created the songs on Solace must have come from the deep South where they’re still searching for the wrong eyed Jesus with very little success.
Essentially these are all folk songs, and although the very nature of folk songs is that they are transient, passing stories from one place to another, accumulating new angles depending on where the songs end up – the fact remains that Amandine’s approach remains heavily influenced by Americana.
It’s there in the banjo that introduces the album on Faintest Of Sparks; it’s there in the pedal steel, and it’s there in the feel of the album, running through the grain of every song like a mighty redwood pine that’s been watered with barbeque sauce. Hell, most of these songs sound as if Neil Young had a hand in writing them.
There are slight Swedish touches here and there, the lyrics are apparently influenced by contemporary Swedish authors, but seeing as the major themes are hardship, redemption and forgiveness it’s not as if we’re venturing onto particularly new ground.
The important thing of course is not where music comes from, but how it sounds. In that respect Amandine have created a coherent and perfectly played album. But it’s one that hardly sets the world on fire. Many songs blend into one another being fairly one paced and the vocals have such a calming lilting quality that you quite often find yourself drifting off to sleep half way through the album.
The real standout on display here is second track Chores Of The Heart, which alongside the other songs here is almost bullish in comparison. Huge guitar chords, and a seething organ inject a bit of vigour into proceedings and as the album progresses, you just wish they’d repeat the trick a few more times.
As an example of Swedish Americana, I’m sure there are a few bands around who can better Amandine. In terms of heart stopping songs, only Chores of The Heart really grabs at you, and it’s not really enough.