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June 9, 2008
This is the second full-length album from Swedish singer-songwriter Ass – aka Andreas Soderstrom – who now performs as a solo artist after stints touring with several of the new wave of Scandinavian pop acts.
His father owned a bazouki factory, so perhaps a career in music was a forgone conclusion, and this follow-up to his self-titled debut builds on the rich promise of that record. Mature and intricate, these ten largely non-vocal tracks confirm Soderstrom as a hugely impressive songwriter and arranger.
With folk-inspired melancholy reminiscent of the likes of Bert Jansch, John Renbourn and John Fahey, songs like It Only Takes Minutes see his rhythmic finger-picking set against a more airy backdrop, the gentle sounds being sweet yet also infused with the stark melancholy which pervades most of his material.
Such delicious hymns to darkness would normally be associated with Will Oldham, but it’s testament to Soderstrom’s song-writing abilities that he maintains a style that is distinctively his own, especially on the effortlessly lovely Vertical Spar, where he essays low-key beauty to staggering effect.
This is a significant album from an emerging song-writing talent, and for anyone with a penchant for all things folky this is surely an essential purchase.