I first came across Kristoffer Gildenlöw back in the Nineties when he was with his brother Daniel in Pain of Salvation. Since leaving that band he has been know for working in multiple others, including of course Kayak, as well as having a solo career. This album was originally destined to be an EP to keep fans going until ‘Empty’ came out, but it was decided there were so many songs available which worked together as a set that if some more material was recorded then here was another valid album. All the songs also have videos, so this has been made available as a CD/DVD set, but what I have is the release as part of the True Music Guide series. For those who have yet to come across these wonderful sets, they include the CD and a large booklet which contains an interview with the artist, lots of background information, photos etc and are a real delight. The album was originally released by Kristoffer on his own New Joke Label on April 18th, and I am somewhat surprised not to have come across more reviews.
Although Gildenlöw will often be thought of as being a progressive rock artist due to his musical history, this is a very different album indeed which has far more in common with acoustic rock and folk. The most important instrument on the album is undoubtedly acoustic guitars, and it is the use of these which provides the platform for his emotional and often dark-sounding vocals. One of the most interesting songs on the album, which fits in perfectly with his own material, is a cover version of Leonard Cohen’s “Chelsea Hotel #2” which was originally released on his 1974 album ‘New Skin for the Old Ceremony’. That Gildenlöw feels so perfectly at home with this song, and it does not sound at all out of place, is a good exemplar for the rest of the album. Acoustic guitar, delicate bass, organ and his vocals, the song needs nothing else adding to it, as he treats it with reverence and respect.
The album often feels as if he is in a darkened room, sat on a stool with his eyes closed, with everyone else in the background and just a single spotlight on him. This is strong and powerful music from a great songwriter and performer: just do not expect to hear loud guitars and driving riffs, as this is all about emotion and vocals. Wonderful.