Elin Larsson Group: Let You In (2011)
Darkness and light are two recurring themes of life in Sweden. In winter, it is a dark unforgiving land. When spring and summer finally arrive, Sweden blooms and bursts into life like few other countries can.
Potentially a love letter to the joys of spring, the opener (and title track) of Let You In, the second full-length from Stockholm's Elin Larsson Group, is at once upbeat, perky and fresh. An explosion of acoustic warmth follows the catchy drum intro and bandleader Larsson's saxophone pours out an energetic melody, which is as effective as it is simplistic.
"Dark Skies" comes with foreboding menace. The gloomy mood is set by Larsson and trombonist Kristian Persson, supported by Niklas Wennström's delicate bass, Johan Käck's percussive accompaniment and Henrik Hallberg's deft guitar work. Over the next few minutes, the mood lifts and becomes meditative rather than morose. The bass comes in more like an interlude than a solo and keep the whole piece somber and intimate. This is proper mood music.
There's a delicious Oliver Nelson quality to the dual horn work on many of Let You In's tracks. Much of the harmony is played on the two horns, creating a gentle power and force that is never overwhelming. The tonality is slightly edgy and young, yet never raucous or discordant. Some of the more soaring melodies occasionally smack of late sixties British jazz, like pianist Keith Tippett's You Are Here...I Am There (Polydor, 1970) or the work of composer/arranger Graham Collier.
Stockholm-based Larsson is unquestionably the leader of this recording, not only lending her name to the group but also showing she is a skillful composer and performer throughout. While the rest of the group gets less opportunity to shine individually, its members are rarely relegated to simple accompaniment; this is clearly a group effort.
Whereas the group's Live And Alive (Self Produced, 2010) was a more introverted, tender and surprisingly mature debut, Let You In is far more open and curious. With two albums under its collective belt, Elin Larsson Group has a long musical future ahead of it in which to explore and polish its sound. On the basis of Let You In, the group's future certainly appears very brightor dark, whichever it wants it to be.
Track Listing: Let You In; Dark Skies; I Surrender; Paranoia; Moment In The Sun; The Linerbord; Allt Är Bra Nu; Before The Flood; Victory, At Last.
Personnel: Elin Larsson: saxophones; Kristian Persson: trombone; Henrik Hallberg: guitar; Niklas Wennström: bass; Johan Käck: drums.