May 4 2017
There’s a smouldering intensity present in every note of the sophomore release from the Fanny Gunnarsson Quartet. This stunning quality becomes immediately apparent on opening track “Theme,” and how it develops from a crystalized moment of melodic beauty into an expanding wave of evocative lyricism. And it closes with the same approach on “Shine,” but goes about it with a lighter touch, letting restraint take a firm grasp of things before unleashing the song for the grand finale. In between, Mirrors offers up a mix of vocal and instrumental pieces that adopt a nuanced approach to the changing tides of tones and imagery. The sing-song “To Know You” is carried along upon a melody with no little edge, while “Song for Kerstin” and “By Heart” live in the melancholy place where hopefulness and heartbreak blur together into one.
Gunnarsson makes her mark on both piano and with her voice, and it’s to the great service of this recording that the shifts between instrumental and vocal sections are fluid and effortless. Drummer Hannes Olbers makes profound statements with the gentlest crash of cymbals, though his method of generating a susurrant chatter no less comforting on drums is arguably the more impressive feat. There’s a sharp presence to the solos from Karolina Almgren, and her soprano sax brings a bright clarity to the shape of each melody… a quality made more spectacular in how bassist Kristian Rimshult, acting as its dark shadow, generates all kinds of lovely contrast in tones. The music comes off as heartfelt and genuine, and that’s a big reason it’s so easy to connect with it on the first pass.
One of the better albums to grace us, thus far, in 2017.
Your album personnel: Fanny Gunnarsson (piano, vocals), Karolina Almgren (soprano sax), Kristian Rimshult (double bass) and Hannes Olbers (drums).
Released on Havtorn Records.
Listen to more of the album at the artist’s Soundcloud page.
Music from Malmö, Sweden.