Henrik Levy

A Letter from a City Man

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The second album by this Swedish singer/songwriter (a CD-EP also preceded this release) was his first to be issued outside Scandinavia. It's a competent, if hardly exciting, record with obvious debts to Nick Drake, early Bob Dylan, and perhaps just a bit of the acoustic Bruce Springsteen. The Nick Drake comparison will spring up in a lot of reviews, as Robert Kirby -- who worked with Drake himself as an arranger -- did the string arrangements for three tracks here. Henrik Levy's work as a guitarist (he also plays harmonica) and writer of melodies is, it must be said, ahead of his abilities as a vocalist -- perhaps it's a consequence of working in a second language, but the phrasing sounds a little stiff and mannered, his thin tone lacking much depth and nuance. As a lyricist, he favors observational pieces on the gap between the mundane straight life and the better world that could be, leaning toward images of nature, particularly leaves, to make his points. The songs with baroque-classical-influenced string arrangements come off better than those with more rough-n-ready basic folk backing, though those string-decorated songs are the ones that might plague him with constant comparisons to Nick Drake's vintage work.

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