Music is a conversation, but it can also be many conversations. Some are pure expression, others are polemical, others yet shared whispers. But if there's genuine dialogue in the exchange between the speaker and the listener, then the ideas and feelings wend their way down a communal, expanding path. There is also another kind of conversation that we rarely have time for these days: the one with yourself.
With Unspoken Songs, guitarist Tobias Sjögren and vocalist/trumpeter Per Jørgensen have produced such a set of stories. The title is an apt name: these are the ones that do not see the light of day, but the ones that reflect on the quieter moments in life. Their approach reflects both Pat Metheny's transformational ascendance and Ralph Towner's poignant solitude.
They address the questions that echo down to the bottom of those rarely plumbed spaces with rich sonority until they surely reveal the heart's answersometimes with a flash of brilliance, others a hand-shaded candle to light the way; these shy bursts of illumination shine with such clarity as to open up lines of sight we didn't know were there. We can instantly recognize these benchmarks that will never make the history books or even be remembered ten years hence, yet they can engrave us so deeply as to help make us who we are.
Sjögren and Jørgensen's approach is both artful and learned. A clear rapport, as well as years of study, has shaped their ability to respond to each other with eloquent simplicity. Sjögren studied classical guitar from the age of twelve, his path diverging to jazz voicings and sensibilities early on. In addition to the acoustic guitar, he expertly applies the vg8 to alter the guitar's voice to a ghostly echo. "Nearby the End of The Road," a look at one's past, brings up the kind of archetypal images we all know in our dreams. "What's Left is Right" is exactly that, the truth left after all has been said and done, when there is nothing left but acceptance and letting go.
Jørgensen, a mainstay in Scandinavian jazz since the '70s, is an intriguing improviser; his trumpet can reflect the purest clarity and then descend to a rough burry growl, yet his vocals are what pull this album heads above others of its kind. He can sound like he's twisting his larynx into a shape unknown to the rest of us; yet he uses it to lend a human nuance to Sjögren's tranquil, measured lines.
While peaceful and reflective, this is not an album to put on the player and walk away. Sjögren and Jørgensen's unique voices, shaded and subtle, will call you back gently and relentlessly. The power this music possesses can allow you to access the grace and richness of the smallest thought and feeling of everyday lifethat place within you that knows the truth, your unspoken songs.
Visit Tobias Sjögren on the web.