Taken by Trees

Open Field

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Victoria Bergsman's first project after 11 years fronting the Concretes is a minimalist, introspective affair. Instrumentation is sparse, mostly relegated to twinkling piano and lightly tapped drums. Bergsman co-produced the album with Peter Björn and John's Björn Yttling, recording all the tracks in just six days, stressing restraint to guitarist Andreas Söderström, percussionist and Yttling bandmate John Eriksson, and all the other players. Some listeners who found Bergsman whimsical and cheeky guesting on Peter Björn and John's worldwide smash "Young Folks," might be surprised with the more serious, chamber pop atmosphere here. Bergsman is known for her shyness and for featuring her cute cat Chico in her songs and on her website, and she's had a few well-publicized collapses from stage fright in the past. Open Field is the kind of hushed, romantic album one would expect from such a delicate artist. Inevitable hints of Nick Drake arise in the arrangements, particularly on the intermission-like title track, but it's Bergsman's cool singsongy vocals that dominate everywhere else. Highlights include the spooky, driven "Tell Me," which comes across like a midnight mission through the woods, the easygoing toe-tapper "Julia," and perhaps best of all the soaring Gainsbourg-esque "Lost and Found," composed by Camera Obscura's Tracyanne Campbell. One could criticize the album's generally downbeat mood and often repetitive songwriting style, and one could argue that Bergsman's fragile, sometimes broken voice would fare better with fuller musical backing. A subsequent, brilliant cover of the Guns N' Roses song "Sweet Child O'Mine" and Open Field's Campbell-penned "Lost and Found" suggest that with a little more time in the studio and fewer rushed compositions, Taken by Trees might reach a larger audience. That said, this sort of personal, raw effort from will delight longtime fans and inspire bedroom musicians from Sweden to the United States.

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