Sweden has always had a history of introducing world-class female vocalists across genres, and especially in Soul (Seinabo Sey, Neneh Cherry, Snoh Aalegra, Robyn etc..). Male soul voices, however, remain slightly behind on international status and recognition; emerging and impressing (Kaah, Melo, Tingsek) or quickly disappearing (Christoffer Hiding, Natanael). Over the past few years, our Scandinavian neighbours – Norway, Denmark and Finland have broken the trend, and male vocalists with heart and honest expressions Bernhoft, Lukas Graham,etc. have established themselves on the global stage. But we need more.
It’s one reason why listening to the debut EP – Rosenlund by male Swedish singer/songwriter JFL delighted me and continued to give me hope. The other was simply his sound.
From the first play, the two singles offer affable and adorable cross-genre listening. If this were a two-sided 7″ vinyl, I wouldn’t know which side to play first!
JFL (Johan Lindgren) is the former guitarist with PATATA & Freddy King and vocally reminds me of Christoffer Hiding. Both skilfully balance soulful and pop melodies with engaging lyrics. If Christoffer was ahead of his time, then JFL arrives right when we need him.
‘Think‘ has the gentle breeze of summer woven into the chords. Like cruising in an open-top car, it transports you along with the essence of a care-free life.
‘Living‘ has more of a darker yet positive vibe, and I can’t help but feel a reggae undertone. The chorus’s lyrics ‘trouble times’ are indeed relatable in a world in crisis, and its this connectivity that endears and absorbs. The production by JFL is tight with the notes of the saxophone allowed to dance and uplift these exceptionally crafted singles. Both tracks cross borders with a soulful tempo and harmonious melodies. It’s music for everyone, all ages, all tastes.
To summarise this EP, I’ll take reference from the cover art. A majestic balloon, colourful and impressive, glides above the grey and ordinary walls of the buildings below (I presume it’s Rosenlund, Södermalm, Stockholm). JFL rises above the mainstream, not with something wildly alternative, instead, it’s an invitation to escape, discover and enjoy something new.
I hope he floats back soon with his debut album.
JFL - Rosenlund
Very enjoyable two-track EP which signals the start of a fresh new artist.