I’m pretty sure this guy is a walking insomniac from dusk to dawn, February or November it doesn’t matter, it’s a constant thing. How can one man get so much music done and plot about several future projects even before a chapter has been finished, it’s insane, the workaholic life of this talented musician. Believe it or not, the latest Swanö endeavour is released through one of his longest running monikers and marks the fifth instalment in the chronicle about “The Breathing Shadow”, though I’m not entirely sure if this is a continuation of the core story… let’s just say there’s definitely a common thread running through every song.
Yes, we’re dealing with NIGHTINGALE this time, the lyrical concept I’ve failed to get into because of my “years too late” rendezvous with many of Mr. Swanö’s solo projects, but I can tell you that the music isn’t that hard to get into, that is if you’re accustomed with catchy and Melodic Progressive Rock with vintage keyboard elements. “Alive Again”, the fourth part of the saga, got me all hooked up with time, “Invisible” took a hold on me after two spins, and now after oh so many spins I still have a hard time letting it go out of my stereo.
What’s really makes this album tick is the close chemistry and brilliant catchy song writing of Swanö and his brother Tom Nouga, the arranging of the songs is based on something musicians earn with time: flair. Keyboards, melodies or vocal hooks, it’s all uber catchy and singalongish, ridiculously well mated all together with the rest of the atmosphere, which although soaked with colours of straight up seventies Prog Rock does have a few surprises for you to uncover. Acoustic guitars are still being inserted in many of the songs and they’ve sort of emphasised on that particular cosy/warm aspect of the music by having bassist Erik Oskarsson and Nouga complementing Swanö’s clear singing with some backing vocal harmonies in the manipulating choruses.
A bit heavier in some cases (as heard on tracks like “A Raincheck On My Demise” and “Misery”), NIGHTINGALE is still a purveyor of fine melodies and relaxed, somewhat saddened vocal work, done by Swanö himself of course. “Atlantis Rising” is probably my most desired track at the moment, everything about this song nails home the said fact about first class song writing and melodic twists, shooting the sceptic down with out of reach melodic guitar and keyboard work and a chorus made to echo forever in your mind, in short: this is what Progressive Rock is all about. The album closes with the heavy and epic “Stalingrad”. It’s no “Eternal” that’s for sure, but it has an ethereal downfall atmosphere in the first couple of minutes before it kicks your teeth with the more traditional/up-tempo style of the two song writers.
All I know is that I loved every bit of this CD, well, the solos were a bit more complex on “Alive Again” but other than that “Invisible” is not far behind its predecessor, even staying ahead in terms of sound qualities. A safe bet for Swanö fans no doubt. (Online February 26, 2005)