In 2010 Peter Thisell brought together a group of musicians to record an album in an abandoned school in southern Sweden. The school served as both recording studio and home for the band’s families, friends and animals. This gave the band the space to take time with their debut recording, spending a week rehearsing together and perfecting the songs before recording the sessions live. As with the recordings, Thisell have also taken their time releasing the album. Only now, almost four years after the recordings were made, is this extraordinary album ready to be released. It is well worth the wait. The band’s remarkable, slow burning take on Americana is one that will appeal to anyone with the slightest interest in country inspired alt-folk and particualrly fans of Bonnie Prince Billie, Wilco and My Morning Jacket.
There are many reasons why this album works so well: Karin Wiberg’s violin, Peter Thisell’s Neil Young-like vocals and David Odlöw’s accordion to name but a few. The main reason, though, is the strength of the song writing. Peter Thisell’s lyrics are a series of reflections on being an individual trying to love and live with others. The music meanwhile, written by all of the musicians, is clearly the result of a group of musicians who have taken the time to perfect these songs.
This combination is particularly effective on the album’s opener A Town of Windows. With the chorus “I’ve come a long way to be flying so low, a shadow/Too many nights now on my own,” the lyrics set the tone for the rest of the album. These are backed perfectly by a forceful piano riff, Odlöw’s mournful steel guitar and Viberg’s melancholy violin.
Another highlight is Could You, a tender love song about two people “alone and afraid,” wondering if they could fall in love with each other. This song brings Peter Thisell’s picked acoustic guitar to the fore and ends with a beautiful duet between Wiberg’s plaintive violin and Odlöw’s gentle accordion.
The album’s highlight though, is Over years, Over Time. The song begins with a dramatic guitar line that evokes memories of spaghetti western showdowns. This could not be more appropriate for a song about a standoff between a couple attempting to reconcile long-standing differences. The guitar lines give way to a soft, repeated piano phrase and an increasingly prominent violin; perfectly conveying a sense of growing tension and regret. This is song that deserves to reach a wide audience.
At just thirty-six minutes long, I leaves the listener intrigued and wanting more. Fortunately, recordings have already been made for the follow up II, part two of a planned trilogy. Let’s hope that it doesn’t take quite so long to get this album released.
Review by: Alfred Archer
Over Years, Over Time
A Town of Windows (Live by The Guesthouse)
22nd of May: Malmö, Folkets Park Far i Hatten
23rd of May: Hamburg, Hasenschaukel
24th of May: Köln, Lichtung
25th of May: Copenhagen, Copenhagen Listening Room
9th of August: Delsbo, Sunshine Explosion