Multi-instrumentalist Rikard Sjöblom has had a busy time of late, from last year’s accomplished release +4626 Comfortzone with his band Beardfish to becoming part of the U.K. progressive rock band Big Big Train for their highly successful concerts at Kings Hall in August. In between he managed to find the time to write and record the songs for this solo album. Beardfish have had a fifteen year career and during this time Rikard has also released two albums with the band Gungfly (which started out as a solo project but soon became more of a band) and with his fellow Beardfish musicians became temporary members of The Tangent for their Summer’s End appearance in 2008. He has only released one album under his own name previously, recorded in 2003 and eventually released in 2006 under the name Cyklonmannen, an instrumental interpretation of a novel written by Sture Dahlström.
About this release Rikard says: “it also feels like it’s the right time to do it because right now I’m involved in many different projects and I’ve longed to make something that is completely me”. That statement seems to hold true as here he has achieved a sound all of his own, the influences are there but not obviously so and there does not appear to be any point in the album where you say to yourself “that sounds like…whoever”. Indeed, the first thought would be a comparison to Beardfish, but this is due to his distinctive voice rather than the song structures, there is a lighter feel to these songs.
The eight songs sit together well; they are vibrant and well structured with great melody throughout, as usual Rikard seems to choose just the right instrument at given points to create the best impact and mood. There is a theme running through the songs, subjects such as love, life, death, self-esteem and believing in yourself.
Rikard bookends the album with the track Love and War, Parts One & Two. Part One gives us a bright start in an almost pop/rock feel while Part Two is an extended, more progressive-style song, beautifully paced, sung and played. The longest song on the album, Rhyme and Reason is a fine example of Rikard’s song writing, building towards the only really Beardfish-like musical interlude of keyboards, organ and guitar drive the song forward into almost Prog metal style riffing before returning to the main theme. There are some great instrumental highlights within this song.
Will We Cry? begins with what appears to be a military drum before the introduction of the guitar, then a little flute followed by the vocals, all of which deliver a well constructed song. The short instrumental Building a Tent for Astor has a French flavour, light and a little whimsical at times. Listening, you can imagine camping out under summer skies.
Throughout this album Rikard’s singing is of high quality with great range and harmony, he also plays most of the instruments, although with the assistance of a few guest players; his Beardfish band mate Robert Hansen provides some bass and there are contributions from Petter Diamant on drums and Rasmus Diamant on bass, however the review copy doesn’t give any information of which tracks they all contributed to.
The Unbendable Sleep will be available in February on CD and digital download through Gungfly Productions, for the audiophiles amongst us the vinyl version will be available from Plane Groovy.
Rikard states that he has plans to perform these songs live and some dates have been booked supporting Anima Mundi on their U.K. tour in May. On the basis of this release I would like to see him play these songs, he has created an album of beautifully crafted works that reveal more on each listen. It demonstrates that his song writing is continuing to develop and mature, and I for one look forward to his next release as a solo artist. This is a diverse collection of songs with good production and excellent sound – which I’d love to hear from the vinyl. Definitely a quality release from a talented individual, there is much here that could appeal to a newer audience and win him new fans.
01. Love and War, Part One: I Am Who You Are (3:25)
02. Realm of You and Me (5:09)
03. Rhyme and Reason (11:25)
04. Will We Cry? (4:03)
05. Under Northern Skies (Villemo’s Song) (7:43)
06. Building a Tent for Astor (1:43)
07. Anna-Lee (4:51)
08. Love and War, Part Two: Lucky Star (11:08)
Total time – 49:27
Rikard Sjöblom – Vocals, Guitars, Keyboards, Drums & Bass
Robert Hanson – Bass
Petter Diamant – Drums
Rasmus Diamant – Bass
Record Label: Gungfly Productions
Country of Origin: Sweden
Date Of Release: 10th February 2016