Kristofer Åström has been around, both metaphorically and literally. His hardcore punk band Fireside was the first Swedish band to ever play the Lollapalooza Festival. In 1998, he was given a guitar, trust and studio time and has since released eight albums and several EPs under his own name. Spanning folk, country, pop and rock, these records explore both human relationships and, quoting his third album’s title, the condition of “northern blues”. Sometimes with Hidden Truck or The Rainaways next to his name, sometimes singing duets with musicians such as Britta Persson and Maria Taylor. Sometimes releasing two records within one year and sometimes disappearing for three years. Having seen him five times in two countries in the last six years, I can promise you that, if he should drift out of your playlist for a while during his longer absences, he will win his spot back in no time live. If you haven’t heard of Kristofer Åström or if you only have a vague memory of this important Swedish Singer-Songwriter, this is your chance for a proper introduction. How do you do?
His reply, An Introduction To, unhurriedly presents up to two songs off every one of his albums and two songs from his EPs. It is not the first time that Kristofer Åström appears on the cover of one of his records but it is the first time he looks directly at the listener as if to make sure that you pay close attention to this collection of songs. It is not a chronological journey: the record travels back and forth between the slow, vulnerable melancholy of 1998, the louder, more experimental sorrow of 2012 and every other shade of northern blues in between.
There is the energetic, country-esque bout of unanswered questions in “Conjure Me”, the first, more stripped-back version of “The Wild” with Britta Persson from the folk macabre album Loupita and the angry rock song “The Good You Bring”.
There are minimalist lyrics that condense whole life experiences into a few, simple words, for example in “One Good Moment”: “One good moment / could last me a lifetime.”
And there is brilliant wordplay in, for instance, “Twentyseven” and the famous “All Lovers Hell”, which describes the intricacies of jealousy thus: “I asked her to be true / She said I love you, too / Her eyes were sad and I recall / somebody asked: do you?”
While a lot of Kristofer Åström’s songs address doubt, loneliness and sad endings, the collection also includes a defence of “silly” love songs in “Just Another Lovesong”, armed with some of the most heartwarming hooks.
In short, An Introduction To is a great, representative mixtape of Kristofer Åström’s first 15 years. Some personal favourites such as “I Collect Knives”, “Poor Young Man’s Heart”, “All In” and “One More Drink” may be missing but, as he said, cleverly:
This is not supposed to be a Best Of compilation. Like it says, it’s an introduction to my music. My world. It’s my party and you are all invited.
For the after-party, watch some of the beautiful videos and turn to the limited edition of An Introduction To, which includes some rarities from various compilations and, to the best of my knowledge, also some unreleased material.
Review by: Anne Malewski
One good moment
Album Stream (Via Deezer)
Released via Tapete4 Nov 2013
Order via Amazon