Jesper Lindell presents what could well be a definition of Americana (discuss).
As has often been noted, Americana is a broad church, both encompassing and drifting through many other genres and sub-genres of music. However, if you were to boil it down to a steaming heady gumbo of all its different aspects, ‘Twilights’, the second album by Jesper Lindell, is probably pretty close to what you would find. Lindell lists influences such as Van Morrisson and the Band, but the rich, earthy production here, and especially Lindell’s own melodic yet gritty vocals, recall modern artists such as Chris Stapleton, Sturgill Simpson and Eric Church. Can’t be a bad thing, and it isn’t. This is an easy joy of a record, building and developing on Lindell’s debut (the also very fine ‘Everyday Dreams’). The very start of the opening track, ‘Westcoast Rain’, is likely to be enough to convince many people to jump on-board. A snare shot, a hearty mix of Rhodes style organ and lead guitar, and a nod of the head to Dylan – although by the time the heavenly, uplifting chorus arrives, it’s the Band that jumps out, a feeling reinforced by the funky clavichord soloing. Whatever, it’s hard not to be drawn in to a world where guitars chime, backing vocals build, and lead vocals soar above them.
If that’s not enough, next comes ‘If There Comes a Time’, so laid back and soulful, so, so fine. From there on, the quality never relents, the playing at once both subtle and robust, the jigsaw pieces of the music locking together just beautifully. It is a real pleasure to listen to the record; and on finishing, to go back to the start, and find it all just as good again. ‘Dance’ is an absolute joy; simple, yes, but not ‘stupid’ simple – just engagingly upbeat music, packed with vocal hooks, and with a nicely refined lyric. ‘Twilight’, meanwhile, gives the album it’s title. It is actually the only cover, a (relatively) deep Band cut, and in a nice touch, features Amy Helm, Levon’s daughter, on duet vocal. In a final flourish, and squeezing his voice to a rather lovely and vulnerable falsetto, ‘Into the Blue’ adds a different texture, and a gorgeous way to close out a rather wonderful album.
So many records take a few listens to work their magic…this one is pretty much all there from the get-go. If that’s partly because Lindell’s influences are present throughout, they are worn lightly. These are new songs which stand firmly on their own two feet, and create an album that would work equally as well on the headphones, in the car, in the concert hall or the sweaty club. It’s easy to overthink this stuff – this is just quality. One listen is likely to be enough to want to hear more. Turn it up, and dive right in, the water’s lovely.