In my capacity as a music fan who dabbles with the written word (you know, a music columnist / blogger), I often get tunes submitted to me for my consideration.
It’s a great honor and greater pleasure to be able to listen to so much material from so many people from such different countries, backgrounds and genres. Thank you to everyone who reaches out to me, I wish I had the time and ability to write about every artist and submission that comes my way. It never gets boring!
And an EP that was recently shared with me never gets boring, either.
Musician Jon Magnusson contacted me via Twitter (you can find and follow him at @jonmagnussonof).
The four-song EP dabbles in different sounds, making for an enjoyable listen that stands up to repeat airings without overstaying its welcome.
Opening track “Visa från Utanmyra” is a lovely mood piece, an instrumental with a good guitar groove. It sounds like it could have grown out of a jam around “Auld Lang Syne” without being slavishly derivative of that chestnut, but it is actually Magnusson’s interpretation of a Swedish folk song dating back to the early 1900s (per the EP’s press release). It has a jazzy swing to it, and got my head nodding along. It catches the ear and opens you up for more.
“Ode to a Friend” follows, with a strident piano introduction. Synthesized strings and drums come in giving a layered instrumental cushion before Magnusson’s voice delivers the lyric. It’s a sad tale of loss, but the music is never less than celebratory, a tribute to a fallen friend. The way the vocal harmonies weave around the melody adds to the emotional heft of the track.
The track that inspires the EP’s title, “Psalm for Sinners,” is the third entry. It’s a fun, upbeat track. It’s a lovely tonic to the sadness of “Ode to a Friend,” giving us a fun jaunt with a good beat. This one gets my toes a-tapping. I probably play this song the most, it’s perfect for sunny days. I don’t know that I’d say it’s my favorite track on the collection, but it puts me in a great state of mind … and I value that.
“Your Dreams” wraps up the EP in strong fashion. Tasty electric guitar and a positive energy provide early lift. It’s a good rocker with a stomping beat, and has the most anthemic and polished arrangement of the four songs (sending off the collection in a very strong manner). I listen to this one almost as much as I do “Psalm for Sinners,” and I’d consider it the cream of this crop of songs.
Magnusson is Swedish, and he doesn’t try to cover his accent with American or British stylings, which I for one appreciate and applaud. His music feels personal, optimistic and reassuring, and that he keeps his own voice without adopting other vocal mannerisms keeps the music grounded and legitimate.
Check out his music on YouTube, Soundcloud and/or Spotify. It’s familiar enough to be welcoming, but personal enough to be intriguing.
Follow Jon Magnusson