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Vidya: The Papillon


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Vidya: The Papillon
Songwriting often provides a sense of exploration and self-discovery which is not as present in other art forms. We can easily express our thoughts with words but something extraordinary happens when we add music to the mix as well, and that is certainly the case with Swedish pianist and composer Vidya-Liselotte Sundberg. Her album The Papillon gave her an opportunity to examine and come to understand some of her most profound and heartbreaking experiences.

Vidya grew up surrounded by music. Since her childhood, she was fascinated by albums from her father's collection, by artists such as The Beatles and Abba. Later, she discovered artists such as Michael Jackson and Joni Mitchell. The intricacies and melodic structure of these popular artists ultimately helped her establish her own distinct sound.

Vidya found something of herself in the music she heard, but there was also something missing. She always hoped to someday meet her biological mother. After years of searching, she located her mother in India and finally got the opportunity to connect. While this was a high point in Vidya's life, they only got to spend a short time together. Unfortunately, her mother died during a pilgrimage in the Himalayas. The Papillon, Vidya's second album, is an expression of the emotional extremes she went through during the process of discovery and loss.

The Papillon features Vidya on keyboards and vocals, Putte Johander on bass, and Jon Falt on drums. This core group is supported by guest musicians, Markus Ahlberg on trombone, trumpet, and background vocals, along with Lisa Rydberg on violin and viola.

The music here is satisfying on every level. The influences of jazz, pop, folk, and world music are present but these are unique original compositions. Reflecting Vidya's own experiences, the compositions provide a broad variety of emotions. Some are introspective while others are almost playful. However, throughout them all there is an underlying sense of optimism and hope. "Change the World," the opening track, exemplifies this and sets the tone for the entire album. There is a tight groove and cool Indian-inspired melody which serve as a foundation for the uplifting lyrics. It is difficult not to be moved by the music and Vidya's powerful vocal delivery.

Each of the songs on The Papillon is beautifully crafted. Some, such as "The Reason" and "Michael," are radio-friendly songs, each with a rich melodic structure. Songs such as "Residence Gold" and "The Papillon" also feature beautiful vocal harmonies. Although these songs seem traditional in some aspects, there is an edgy quality which gives them a unique appeal.

The Swedish songs, in general, tend to be somewhat more experimental, but they are still quite accessible. These songs also seem to capture an emotional power and vulnerability which comes across even for listeners who do not understand a word of the Swedish language. Vidya has an openness and honesty in her voice that conveys a meaning which goes beyond the words.

Papillon is, of course, the French word for butterfly, and Vidya uses the title as a metaphor for the changes she experienced as she searched for and ultimately located her mother. Her experience can easily connect with many listeners. Humans are creatures of change, and a great deal of our energy is spent trying to deal with the changes life presents. Perhaps Vidya's experience can help us on our journey.

Track Listing

Change the World; The Reason; Kom igen min vän; Ett andetag; Residence Gold; The Papillon; Michael; My One and Only Love; Någon; Shantas sång


Vidya-Liselotte Sundberg: voice / vocals; Putte Johander: bass; Jon Falt: drums.

Album information

Title: The Papillon | Year Released: 2022 | Record Label: Havtorn Records

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