It’s always interesting when two cultures clash, when a songwriter from one part of the world hears a style of music from a totally different place but decides not only will they adopt this genre but also bring something new to it. No doubt there is a girl from China playing heavy metal guitar or a boy from Sri Lanka writing lyrics in the style of 80’s hip-hop, thanks to music streaming via the internet the world of music is small and it was only a matter of time before someone from Scandinavia would adopt America’s country music and bring the term ‘Scandicana’ to listening ears.
It’s quite obvious from the word that it’s a hybrid of Scandinavia and Americana but does it work? Is it any good? Can it hold it’s own in a world of countless singers, bands and musicians already chipping away at the already heaving shelf of new releases?
Buford Pope (or Mikael Liljeborg to give his Swedish name) has brought something new to the table on his eighth album, there are subtle hints to Scandinavian music throughout but it doesn’t hinder or dilute the feeling that this could be written and played by a man from Colorado. It starts off with a love letter to the country where this music originates on the song ‘America’ with the lyrics “here I am on the outside, feeling you here on the inside” it sounds like an artist that feels he’s not being given the air time his songs truly deserve. Yes there are moments where you want the music to pack a punch and to move away from the lonely drifter character that fits so seamlessly into Southern State Blues, but no one ever said you had to be a cowboy to sing about cowboys and there is a feeling of fondness for the genre soaked into the clever lyrics and nicely produced songs.
There are some clever production choices, especially within the background music, nice piano tone and placement of violins, slide guitar and banjo reinforces which genre you’re visiting but there is also that feeling of space that seems to be in Scandinavian music, giving a hard, lonely edge to complement Pope’s unique voice.
It might not be to everyone’s taste, and the purists will probably avoid it, but it holds its own and is worth repeated listens.