Last year, in the pages of this blog, we talked about Thomas Dybdahl on the occasion of his album The Great Plains. At that time, the Norwegian singer-songwriter was already introduced as one of the most interesting representatives of the neo folk movement and his LP was appreciated mostly because of a couple of really exciting songs, such as the beautiful Like Bonnie & Clyde.
One year has passed and Thomas Dybdahl is back with a new work called All These Things, which indicates that the artist must be experiencing a period of particular creativity.
An element that amazed me last year on the occasion of Dybdahl’s previous record, and which still surprises me as I listen to All These Things, is how Dybdahl’s music is so warm and soft, which is basically the opposite of what you would expect when thinking of the cold lands of Norway. The atmospheres that emanate from the songs of his new album are extremely relaxed and intimate, and the effect is further amplified by the absolute elegance of the arrangements. The persistent tranquility and warmth of the music allow the album to flow placidly and smoothly from the beginning to the end, but at the same time – at least for a distracted listener – it might also appear that All These Things doesn’t offer any burst of emotions, or any moment where the shallow calm is broken by a sudden wave of energy. In reality what happens is that most of the beauty of Dybdhal’s new work is hidden in the details of each song, as well as in the overall balance that has been achieved among the various components of the music. Therefore, it’s really difficult to appreciate the real value of the album with only a superficial listening.
In the best tradition of Dybdahl’s productions there are always a couple of songs in every album which stand out from the others, and this is confirmed also in his latest LP. However, both the style and the dominating atmospheres that we find in the songs of the album are extremely similar and, in the end, All These Things, taken as a whole, is definitely more uniform and homogeneous than Dybdahl’s previous records. This is partly due to the fact that the album was recorded in the course of only 3 days. As the author explained, it was a sort of reaction to the fact that his previous album was much more focused on the production and on the sonic aspect of the songs.
Another element of interest of the album is given by the fact that Dybdahl collaborated with a cast of talented artists, including American songwriter and producer Larry Klein, American composer and pianist Patrick Warren and American guitarist Dean Parks. And when you launch the album from your stereo it really seems to be surrounded by an ensemble of excellent musicians, playing just for you, in a relaxed environment, creating precious and fragile fragments of melodies over delicate sequence of chords.
All These Things can be streamed from Spotify, where you can also enjoy a very nice playlist created by Dybdahl himself which collects all of his best songs.
My highlights: What You Came For, Lifeline, The Longest Night and the title track All These Things.
If you enjoyed the music featured in this article you might have a look to MODERN SONGWRITERS, the playlist that I’m curating on Spotify with all the best and latest songs from contemporary artists.