Swedish vocalist Lina Nyberg
's new album The Sirenades
, her 16th since her debut twenty years ago, is her most ambitious project to date. The title word she invented derives from three wordsSirens
, the ancient Greek ones who deceive you and make you forget your mission; Sirens
, the long warning horns at war time and Serenade
, a song to perform for someone you lovereveals much about Nyberg's innovative and highly personal art. It is playful and whimsical but also thoughtful and profound; carefully arranged, melodic and even sentimental, but also borders fearlessly with the experimental; theatrics bursting with rich imagination but also insightful and reflective on creative process and art in general. Nyberg states that some of them are "about how your own fear easily distorts the way you perceive the world," while others are about the 'thin line between reality and dream."
Nyberg wrote the music and lyrics for this two-fold albumexcept a cover of James Shelton's "Lilac Wine" and Caetano Veloso
's "London London," an adaptation of a Virginia Woolf poem and W.A. Mozart motive. Nyberg composed almost all the arrangements, assisted in the mixing stage and produced it. The first part features her working bandpianist Cecilia Persson
, guitarist David Stackenäs
, bassist Josef Kallerdahl and drummer Peter Danemo
all independent artists and composers in their own right who worked on Nyberg's last album, Palaver
(Moserobie, 2011), and the horn section of the esteemed Norrbotten Big Band comprised of 13 trumpeters, trombonists and sax players.
The first song, "One Tone Song," features Stackenäs singular, erratic guitar playing, contrasting Nyberg's elegant, dramatic delivery colored brilliantly by the horn section and the driving band. His blistering, climatic solo magnifies the message that even one tone, one note and one line can bring light and comfort. The ironic ballad, "The Cyber Song," illustrates Nyberg's yearning for innocent, face-to-face relationships other than the hyper- reality of online applications or typographed articulations. Danemo's beautifully arranged cover of the heartbreaking "Lilac Wine" employs the big band horns in a delicate manner that emphasizes Nyberg's passionate, aching delivery. The playful, uplifting "The Monster Song" with Nyberg's amused, charming delivery, may convince all to befriend, near and far away, real and imaginary monsters. It also features a powerful alto sax solo by Håkan Broström. This is concluded with the nuanced orchestration of "The Sirenade," led by tenor saxophonist Karl-Martin Almqvist
and a brief instrumental arrangement of Woolf's poem "Who Shall Measure."
The same song, in a delicate vocal arrangement, opens the second Monsters
, featuring only the Nyberg band. The arrangements here are more loose and rhythmic, highlighting the powerful, driving rhythm section of Kallerdahl, Danemo and Persson on "The Skin." The second arrangement of "The Monster Song" is more energetic and dramatic than the orchestral one, featuring a West African tinged guitar solo by Stackenäs. Nyberg borrows Mozart's motif from the comic opera "The Marriage of Figaro" for the suggestive lyrics of "The Song of the Roses." Her minimalist arrangement stresses the delicate, thoughtful interplay by her band. Nyberg's theatrical, almost operatic delivery on "The Woodlouse," leads the tight interplay of her band, then later, it's free improvised sonic explorations. Kallerdahl's buzzing bow work accompanies Nyberg's touching love song, reflecting on her creative work as an act of deep love. Nyberg finishes this album with a heartfelt, emotional cover of the great Brazilian singer-songwriter Veloso, a seminal inspiration to whom she dedicated a song on Palaver
. The Sirenades
is a most inspiring, profound work of art, graced by the beautiful photos of Miki Anaguris and the illustrations of Matilda Ruta.