It’s easy to get the impression that the youth of today are all going for the short cuts. The easy way to show biz through talent- and gameshows. But that’s of course not true. Most of them have the same need to express themselves in a true and honest way as the youth of the generations before them.
21 year old Swedish singer/songwriter Ellen Sundberg wouldn’t even dream of participating in any of those shows. Ellen Sundberg creates her music because she can and has that deep need to express herself. And we listen to Ellen because we need her and because she moves us.
Ellen Sundberg came to us about a year ago with her music and her wonderful, raw talent. And the forthcoming, Israel Nash produced album ”White Smoke & Pines” proves that she’s here to stay. For a long time!
Ellen Sundberg’s first album ”Black Raven” was released in August 2013 and that was the beginning of a journey that young Ellen might have dreamt of, but surely didn’t expect to happen. ”Black Raven” and the first promotional tour got raving reviews and the response from the audience was overwhelming. Ellen Sundberg was not ”just another singer/songwriter”. Listening to her unique and intense expression made it impossible to be indifferent. She almost forced you to take a stand.
Among the first ones to embrace Ellen Sundberg and her music were older and more experienced musicians and songwriters. They immediatly recognized the huge talent and the musical integrity. Her first tour outside Sweden was as support act for Israel Nash in Ireland and Israel as well as his band were knocked out by her. As the tour continued their musical understanding and friendship grew deeper. Once Israel Nash was back home in Texas, he reached out and asked – no, demanded – to produce Ellen’s next album.
Ellen has never really stopped touring since the release of ”Black Raven”. She’s played the Americana Music Conference in Nashville and SXSW in Austin. The summer of 2014 she and her band acted as support and back up band for American phenomena Doug Seegers. Together they did over 60 gigs. The tour and the televised documentary about Mr Seegers and the tour, made Ellen Sundberg a household name in Sweden. And Ellen sure impressed Doug Seegers: ”I think Ellen is a magnificent talent for her age of only 21. Her songs are totally original and incredibly soothing. It amazes me how a girl so young can be so gifted. Her music is a true blessing.”
Early 2014, Ellen flew to Texas to spend some time at Israel Nash’s ranch, in Hill Country right outside Austin. The Grammy awarded engineer Ted Young (Rolling Stones, Kurt Vile, Israel Nash) set up his recording equipment in Israel’s living room. Ellen brought a bunch of new, amazing songs and Israel Nash called in his band. And the magic begun.
”White Smoke & Pines” was recorded live in the studio, i.e Israel’s living room. Even Ellen’s lead vocals were recorded live and that’s highly unusual and very demanding.
Israel Nash is a strong personality and the band playing on the album is an extremely tight, road tested outfit. But still ”White Smoke & Pines” is very much Ellen Sundberg. Her songs don’t sound much like anything else really. They are all pretty much in the same pace and quite mesmerizing. In many of the songs the melodies are not that obvious. But there is a kind of hypnotic, suggestive and irresitable quality in the music. Before you know it you’re dragged into Ellen’s universe - the seemingly simple words turn into poetry and the melodies you didn’t even hear the first time are now catchy in their own, peculiar way. It’s not always the most comfortable place to be, but very rewarding. Once you get there, you don’t want to leave.
Like so many other young Swedish songwriters, Ellen writes her lyrics in English. The one exception on ”White Smoke & Pines” is ”Vägen Är Lång/ The Road Is Long” with a seemless and perfectly natural mix of Swedish and English. .
”Hollow”, ”What is Life” and ”Headlights” take us on a claustrophobic journey of the inner life of a 21 year young woman – the doubts, the uncertainty and the search for an identity of your own.
”Swedish Inland”, ”Vägen är Lång/ Road Is Long” and ”Yours & Mine” deal with the dramatic change from being a country girl in the north of Sweden to the life on the road.
”Thunder Man” points in a new direction. Suddenly the sound is heavier and you can sense early Black Sabbath and grunge.
The ballad ”Maze Of Shadows” slowly build into a crecendo when Ellen sings ”I´ll be your shadow if you´ll be my shadow… In The Maze of Shadows you belong to me”.
In “Four Times”, with its catchy melody and hooks, Ellen shows her pop sensibility .
Ellen Sundberg is 22 years old and she still lives in the tiny village of Bjärme in the northern parts of Sweden. She no longer works at the local grocery. ”White Smoke & Pines” is her second album.
released April 28, 2015
Produced by Israel Nash
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