There are several musical genres that have gotten an electronic makeover, but I was not expecting chamber music to be one of those. When I first put Loney, Dear’s Hall Music on, that is exactly what I got. Emil Svanängen, the man behind the Dear has graduated from home recording to creating a sweeping score complete with church bells, cellos, violins, brass sections and many other orchestral instruments to suit his fancy.
The album opens with “Name,” a folksong where Svanängen’s Swedish accent takes on an Irish lilt and gives way to imagery of emerald pastures. The album then immediately steps into a cathedral of sound with “My Heart,” complete with church bells offset by deep synth pop. Svanängen’s soft yet impactful voice transitions from folky to heartfelt, creating a sermon of soul. In “Calm Down,” reassurance comes through the lyrics as well as a soft bounciness from the accompanying big band sounds, xylophones and tap-a-tap from drumsticks on foreign surfaces. The falsetto singing in “D Major” is a little jarring, but the album picks up again and with the penultimate track, “I Dreamed About You.”
Svanängen is at his best when he confidently belts out his lyrics above the score that he has meticulously laid out for his audience. His choice to create a grand score with an army of classical chamber instruments was an ambitious one that he pulls off, but his true weapon is his voice. With one slight change in his inflection, he is able to alter the entire mood of a song. There is such tragedy behind his vocals that if I don’t find his words and voice moving, I question if something is me.
If that is the case, then I may have to see a therapist. For behind the beauty and the layers lacks something to draw me into subsequent listens. I find “My Heart” and “I Dreamed About You” moving to no end, but as soon as they are over, their ephemeral spirit leaves my consciousness. Hall Music is acoustically worth the time to listen to, but I fear it will become one of those albums that becomes a deep cut in my library. I picture myself stumbling across it in a few years and remembering how lovely it sounded only to repeat the process in another five years. But this is a pattern with me; hopefully your experience with Loney, Dear is more memorable.