Sweden has had its share of successful musical exports with sugary-sweet pop acts like ABBA, Ace of Base, and Roxette. Vocalist Stephen Simmonds, however, embraces a slick R&B sound that indicates he has been listening to a lot of Babyface and Stevie Wonder recordings. Simmonds, who previously provided guest vocals on fellow Swede Christian Falk's album Quel Bordel, has crafted a smooth-as-silk debut release that should please fans of retro-soul superstars like D'Angelo and Maxwell.
Featuring collaborations with producers Soulshock (Mary J. Blige, Chico DeBarge) and Raphal Saadiq (the Roots, Tony Toni Tone), the ballad-heavy Spirit Tales may be lacking in originality, but the sultry grooves in songs such as "I Can't Do That" and "I Hope U Do" prove Simmonds is capable of creating modern make-out music at its finest. Spirit Tales is a promising debut album from the sexy and talented Simmonds, and he proves music from Sweden doesn't always sound like "Dancing Queen."