Rikard Sjöblom - 'The Unbendable Sleep'

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Rikard Sjöblom - 'The Unbendable Sleep'

A wonderful collection of memorable songs.

For those of you familiar with either or both of Beardfish and Big Big Train, then Rikard Sjöblom will be a name you'll know. A recent addition as a member of the latter band, he's been the leading light with Beardfish for fifteen years as their main song-writer/vocalist while also handling keyboards and additional guitar.

I have to admit that the music of Beardfish has the ability to both thrill and frustrate me, their more eclectic and heavier moments leaving me bewildered, however, at their most melodic they are superb. Fortunately, with this, his second solo album, Sjöblom has stuck very firmly to the tuneful side of his nature and produced a wonderful collection of memorable songs which might have occasional Prog traits but by and large stay well within the bounds of accessible Melodic Rock.

Apparently it was going to be a truly solo album but in the end Petter Diamant provided drums on four tracks, his brother Rasmus bass on two and Beardfish colleague Robert Hansen appears on another.

The album's book-ended by the two-part 'Love & War', the opener being the short 'I Am Who You Are' and the finale is the much lengthier 'Lucky Star'. The first part rattles along wonderfully like a late 60s Pop song brought up to date; the latter has the same irrepressible feel albeit moving through various styles including an acoustic section and a really mellow middle. The bass motif that heralds the second half is a delight; as are the synth and organ refrains.

Elsewhere, 'Realm Of You And Me' is infectious with both verses and chorus having the ability of getting into your brain. 'Rhyme And Reason' is the album's other epic and it holds the attention throughout, each play revealing more lovely nuances. 'Will We Cry?' has an almost military beat; it's a short but sweet ballad with an unusual structure.

'Under Northern Skies (Villemo's Song)' has yet another incredible chorus, the man certainly has the knack. The tempo changes probably make this the most "Prog" track on the album. Short instrumental 'Building A Tent For Astor' is charming, while 'Anna-Lee' bounces along on a splendid clavinet motif. It's another fine example of Sjöblom's craft as a writer and performer. The song sounds like a celebration where the screaming towards the end comes across as exuberance rather than being an invasion.

Gary Marshall

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