Loney, Dear

Loney, Dear is the brain child of Sweden's Emil Svanangen and this outfit is often described as the one man band with nine members. Whatever that means is a mystery but it does go some way to describe the sound of Sologne. Loney, Dear's blend of DIY indie-pop and lo-fi folk brings to mind solo artists like Stina Nordenstam or Mugison, but the rich tapestry of sounds that is woven around his most delicate of lyrics could be compared to experimental indie kids Grandaddy. All of these comparisons only go a fraction of the way to describe the originality and arresting beauty of this album.

From the first two songs you would be forgiven for thinking that this was yet another record of oh-so-chart friendly, run of the mill, male singer/songwriter crap but wait until you hear The City, The Airport and if you have any heart at all you will reevaluate your earlier judgments, discard your heavy robes of cynicism and jump head first into Sologne's warm waters. It starts of with a cheap casio synth beat overlaid with Svanangen's musings of "the city, I don't want another life that's killing me," then expands like a great bird into a cacophony of instruments, backing vocals, wails, shouts, you name it. It's the childlike equivalent of Radiohead's Let Down and rises and rises with such effortless grace that you want it to go higher and higher. And from here on in it's pure quality. Le Fever is a lonely, melancholic tale but continues the swell of emotion with increasing instrumental textures. Come to think of it, they all do. Songs like In With The Arms creep in with gentle folk sadness then slowly rise to a tearful euphoria with lines like, "Off with the boards, off with what's keeping you down, in with the arms." It's quite exhausting as each song starts you low then lifts you up. We get a little break with the Money Mark style instrumental organ ditty of Grekerna, then the final euphoric blow is dealt in the form of I Lose It All. It's a shame this doesn't end the album as it reaches heights way higher than any thing else as it ticks along at a steady pace then eventually explodes into a piano heavy, drum pounding, Rocky running up the steps glorious piece of crescendo magic that will leave you hands in the air and eyes to the sky wasted.

I do hope I'm not building this up too much but it's just such an honest piece of music akin in charm and emotion to Sunset Rubdown's Shut Up I Am Dreaming and each song on Sologne could be the closing soundtrack to a desperately sad film but as you dry your eyes it's genuine beauty reassures you that everything's gonna be alright. If last year was the year to look to Canada for the best in indie music then in 2006 Sweden is launching a typically Scandinavian counter attack. It's restrained, measured yet unfathomable in its quality and creativity. My only fear is that this quality could easily be undone by a Vodafone advert and then I would have to disown this album. Providing this doesn't happen, Sologne may just make my 'best of 2006' list.