In the 2022 book This Is What It Sounds Like co-author Susan Rogers wrote “authenticity is the subjective conviction that the emotion expressed in a musical performance is genuine and uncontrived.” Within authenticity we find music that is not simply mechanically proficient, but emotionally tied to something greater than a few chords.
As I began exploring the latest record from Swedish sound architects, collectively known as Billy Momo, I couldn’t shake the constant reflection on their authenticity and Rogers’ thoughts.
Boogeyman, the latest eight-song journey into the minds and talents of Oskar ‘Orren’ Hovell (guitars, vocals), Tomas ’Barba’ Juto (guitars, keyboards, vocals, percussion), Tony ‘Gramps’ Lind (drums, percussion, vocals), Christopher ‘Coffa’ Broman Tak (bass, vocals), Mårten ‘Hot Lips’ Forssman (harmonica, vocals), and Andreas ’Preacherman’ Prybil (vocals, percussion), with the help of Otto Wellton on “Hell Hounds” and Henning Iljero-Winnberg on “Bad Guy’s Load – Oblivion – Bad Guys’ Load (Reprise),” shapes a sense of wandering to find one’s self. Granted, recording of the quasi-concept album about “threats, internal and external, local and global, real and imagined” was a departure from the in-person recording collective they’ve known before, having seen the band members record their segments largely in quarantine.
Billy Momo is known to many for the 2019’s Roots & Vision and 2016’s incomparable Seven Rivers Wild. They’re sure to surprise many with their latest, Boogeyman. Like wandering through a forest, coming across a circle of canvas tents surrounding a half-dozen men sitting on stumps around an open fire, Boogeyman does what previous Billy Momo releases, in retrospect, failed to achieve. Billy Momo has drawn open the veins of their outlaw vagabond revival roots sound and let it bleed out into the light of day.
Hitting hard out of the gate with “Hell Hounds,” Boogeyman shapes the world in which Billy Momo. The textured, harmonic pulses shift to a lighter sound with “Make The Stars Align” yet still remain anchored to a bluesy riff and harmonica. Sharing the open fire storying telling of the record, sounds shift like a shadow between dark and light, illuminated by passionate vocals driven by the heart and musicianship tied to the soul. Boogeyman reaches back into elements of swampy Southern Rock while maintaining their structure and staying true to themselves. Most notably in album closer “Bad Guy’s Load – Oblivion – Bad Guys’ Load (Reprise)” where tent revival roots meet blood, sweat, and tears of a Swedish sound you need to know, no excuses.
Sucking up all of my pride and fandom, I will venture to say Billy Momo may have just one-upped the legendary Seven Rivers Wild with Boogeyman. Billy Momo is the intersection of dark, gritty compositions and melodic bliss. Boogeyman’s “guerilla style recording” embodies their presence in absolute authenticity. If anything, exemplifies what makes Billy Momo so great. It is as genuine as it comes.
Basic tracks for ‘Hell hounds’, ‘Pick your truth’ and ‘Make the stars align’ were recorded at Kingside Studios, Gnesta, engineered by Otto Wellton.
Mixed by Tomas ‘Barba’ Juto.
Mastered by Oscar ‘The Head’ Harryson at SoundHabits.
Cover art by Mårten ‘Hot Lips’ Forssman