A few years ago I went for a songwriting excursion to Stockholm. I’ve been twice and both times I’ve loved every minute of the place and come back with songs which have appeared on my own and other people’s records.
My first visit was early summer when the long Swedish winter had passed over and the days I spent in the city were warm and almost too sunny to want to spend all the time I did in dark studios. Everyone speaks ridiculously good English and even my taxi driver was keen to tell me how delighted he was that June was here and the sun was out. As we travelled through downtown and he pointed to the pavements where beautiful Swedish girls walked with carefree abandon wearing far less clothing than would get them through the darker months he couldn’t contain his excitement. In contrast to the fluent English and the munificent liberalism of his fellow citizens his response of, ‘Much women’ was more prosaic.
The next time I returned it was December and the whole city and the harbour were frozen. It was then I heard people explain how heating is included in any rental agreement. I liked this but couldn’t help but notice that the heating hadn’t extended to my friend Tobias Froberg‘s loft where his studio was and we cut the two songs we’d written together.
It’s an inspiring place and of course there’s such a great artistic history and a deep knowledge of pop music. One of the things I loved most was the way hotels and trendy bars didn’t resort to bland electro jazz soundtracks or top 40 mixes on the stereo. I’d hear brilliantly curated song lists which emphasised a lot of cool Americana and singer songwriters. Sweden, I realised was my kind of place.
On this Tuesday’s Another Country I want to take you to the shores of the Baltic Sea for a little Scandinavian sojourn. Music from The Tallest Man on Earth, neighbouring Norway’s own Ane Brun (who worked extensively with Tobias too), Daniel Norgen and Sweden’s finest, First Aid Kit.
I realise how late to the party I am with The Tallest Man on Earth which is the alias of Kristian Mattson who grew up in Dalarna, Sweden but now lives and records in Brooklyn. He comes to Scotland and is playing Edinburgh’s Usher Hall and London’s Hammersmith Apollo later in the year. His current album I Love You. It’s A Fever Dream has been playing everywhere in my house for the last two weeks and I want to play you so much more.
It’s also a very special week for visitors to Scotland where we welcome Yola and Hayes Carl to Glasgow and in the next few weeks we’ll bring you extended conversations and music from both these artists.
Finally I want to tell you how much I enjoyed the Patty Griffin show last week in Edinburgh. Patty is the rarest of talent who will deliver you a set list you wouldn’t expect to love but still makes you feel you’ve just heard a greatest hits show. She has a voice you just don’t want to be parted from and last week she proved to me and a spell bound audience why she is one of the most significant singer songwriters of this or any other generation. I will tell you more and play you a particular highlight from that show this Tuesday.
There will be so much more too but you’re going to have to join me this Tuesday evening at five past nine on BBC Radio Scotland FM to find out more.