Monday, December 27, 2010

Album Review: "Svart Vitt Och Allt Däremellan" - Daniel Adams-Ray

Once upon a time there was a Swedish rap duo named Snook, who made some great music and promised much for the future. And then they disappeared, never to be heard again....but that's not the end of the story. Because, in this fairytale, you get a happy ending.

In 2010, one half of Snook, Oskar Linnros, became a very successful solo artist following the release of his debut album "Vilja Bli". As if that wasn't good enough, the other half of Snook, Daniel Adams-Ray, got around to releasing his debut album later in the year - which has also done very well. So instead of mourning the end of Snook, it's a win-win situation as we get two high-quality solo artists out of it.

"Svart" kicks off the album and is a very different sound to what you'd expect from the guy who was, after all, 'big Danne' the rapper in Snook. This is a more energetic style of track which you'd expect from, say, Håkan Hellström, whilst throwing in wordy rhymes and Beach Boys-style harmonies. Who knew that he could sing as well as rap? It's like he's channelling Moneybrother at times.

"Voyeuren" is a complete contrast - "I am in love with the picture of you/not with you". This is a much warmer track with lots of strings. Recent single "Gubben I Lådan" has also helped to build Daniel's fanbase. You could just imagine this song being a massive festival favourite with its singalong chorus. Still on the singalong front, the very catchy "Lilla Lady" is going to be the next single and again I think this will become a big favourite.

"Förlåt Att Jag Aldrig Sagt Förlåt" has also spent some time in the Sverige Topplistan singles chart even though this hasn't officially been released as a single. It's a ballad, yet it clearly displays Daniel's skill as a rapper-turned-singer, the way he weaves his words.

Daniel's first single "Dum av Dig" still sounds as fresh and appealing as ever, even in the context of this album. And yes, the chorus is, for me, still reminiscent of George Harrison's "Got My Mind Set On You" - but if you're gonna borrow, then borrow from the best. Right? It's such a feelgood, summery track that it will have you dancing round the room.

I'm maybe not so keen on "Himlen Luktar Plast" as I am on some of the other tracks, but it's not too bad either.

"Gryningspyromanen" is one of the strongest tracks on the album which sets darker lyrics against the upbeat, galloping rhythms - "yesterday I was at the top/tomorrow I am down below" and "a million in the bank/but nothing to live for".

This is immediately followed by another of the album's best tracks "Medan vi Faller" which is probably the closest musically to anything on the Oskar Linnros album. Ah yes, I've mentioned him again. Anyway there is an exquisite arrangement and production here, in a retro-soul style.

There are some notable similarities between Daniel and Oscar's albums - take the cover art for example. Oskar does body does Daniel. Then there are the musical similarities too....but when you consider the quality of the music on both albums, then that's ok. And anyway, I would probably attribute this more to both artists being in the same band for a long time and absorbing similar musical ideas. And so what if there are similarities? When they are this good, it's the listener who benefits.

The album ends with "Vitt" which sounds as if it could have been a track on Paul Simon's "Graceland" and which musically acknowledges Daniel's background of growing up in Kenya. In recent Swedish media interviews, Daniel described his experiences of being bullied for being "different" with his cosmopolitan background - well who's got the last laugh now? Daniel Adams-Ray has made an excellent debut album, blending a number of musical influences and succeeding throughout. Well done!

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