Alt-Chamber Folk with the softest falsetto voice of 2022.
David Åhlén’s new release “Watch and Pray” is a short one but it is utterly captivating. The singer-songwriter and composer uses bustling chamber music to create indie folk dreams that push towards something rather than giving you an obvious answer. It may be an odd comparison but ballad-style Bjork meets Anthony and the Johnsons. I’m here for it.
Each track is devastatingly beautiful. It might be the up close and personal harp that resonates on your ears (“My Only Treasure”) of the cool embrace of harmoniums (“My Soul’s Beloved”) but each track warbles with intimacy. It isn’t that the audio is peaking but each instrument sounds amped right up to your ear. Not one track is happy, they are all dark chamber themes but the way songs are composed ensure there are moments of beauty throughout. Take “And her Voice Was Heard” as an example. Towards the end of the track, a heartbreaking motif aligns the guitars, strings and vocals like Olafur Arnalds or Erland Cooper on steroids.
None of this would be nearly as captivating if wasn’t for David Åhlén’s voice. He sings with the softest falsetto I’ve heard in ages. He never waivers or slips into a whisper – it’s a firm falsetto. The lyrics are heartfelt and sincere too, which adds a luminous quality to everything – like a folk song in twilight. The title track closes the EP with the most ghostly and gothic piece and it illustrates that through all the gloom, a bright and warm voice can carry the light through. It’s expertly done.
This is the first David Åhlén release I’ve come across and frankly, I’ll be diving into his back catalogue straight after this is published. I was captivated from start to finish. Everything from the way how instruments interlink, overlap, spiral and float ethereally around you without taking over is expert sound design. The melodies and David’s voice are bewitching. This is an underground treasure you need to seize.
Recommended track: My Only Treasure
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