by Chris Familton
Swedish songwriter Johan Örjansson is the latest in a strong line of Scandinavians who manage to dial into authentic interpretations of folk and Americana. First Aid Kit, The Tallest Man on Earth and Kings of Convenience among others have nailed the melodic richness and vocal sensitivities of folk music and Örjansson is doing the same, albeit with a stronger focus on alt-country.
His story is one of small hometown success and a string of albums that never managed to capture the strength of his live performance. A trawl through old recordings and the resurrection of his best songs, reconfigured and in many cases re-recorded has resulted in the new moniker Basko Believes and something of a ‘real’ debut album in the excellent Melancholic Melodies.
The immediate and obvious touchstone for Örjansson’s style is Ryan Adams. He possesses an at times scarily similar vocal tone to Adams and highlights the similarities in the way he phrases his lyrics and bends and stretches notes with the same weary and tremulous heartache stained voice. The success of the album is a result of his ability to conjure such sounds and emotion but it also rides on strong songwriting, pacing and range. From the sparse dynamics of Houses to the brisk uplifting chorus of The Yellow Fields, the parched electric guitar and soulful feel of We Had A Secret Place and the delicate instrumental melodies that populate These Winding Roads and August Makes Me Cry, Örjansson nails those extremes and everything in between. Eleven tracks with not a weak one among them makes for a mightily impressive album. Fans of Americana should make sure they catch Basko Believes when he tours here later in 2013.
this review was first published in The Music