He is young. He was born a mere 22 years ago, in a Swedish town called Lund. At the age of eight he had his first drum lesson in a New Zealand instrument shop; At the age of ten he wrote his first song (about a Gorilla); his stage premier was at fourteen and at seventeen he recorded his first album. So now it’s about time for the international debut of possibly the greatest songwriter talent since Eliott Smith and Badly Drawn Boy. His name: Andrew Collberg. His style: carefree and fresh. His songs: organic, melodic, with all the makings of a hit.
Today Collberg lives in Tucson, Arizona. Yet he is not a typical representative of the Tucson-sound, even if Calexico bandleader Joey Burns plays the cello on the track “Wait inside”. Andrew Collberg’s prior interest is – despite the lovingly and haunting arrangements – the song itself. Songs with great pop appeal and a memorable, unmistakable voice are his forte. In order to make the snappy hooklines and wonderful melodies of his treasures shine, Collberg brought the producer Nick Luca aboard, who to date has worked with some great names of the Americana scene like Iron & Wine, Calexico and Robyn Hitchcock.
But first things first. How did this Swedish kid end up in Arizona? And how does such a young musician come up with songs that other artists can’t pull off over an entire career? The first question is the easiest to answer: when Andrew was a kid his family moved from Lund to the faraway New Zealand, then later, on to New England and finally to the lonely South-West of the USA. The answer to the second question is also to be found in the family background: “On the wreath” alludes to a lot of famous songwriters and bands from music history: Lennon, Kinks, Byrds, Dylan, Young.
Such music also inspired his father who in turn encouraged young Andrew to pin his ambitions on his musical talent. This explains the nuance of Anglo-American Beat and Folk in his music and also where the sense of timelessness comes from. The fact that “On the wreath” is still dated in the Here and Now is thanks to the renaissance of guitar pop in the eighties up to now – starting with REM, the Go-Betweens and Galaxie 500 up to Elliott Smith and Badly Drawn Boy. All this could be heard on his debut album, released four years ago, when Collberg was 18 and which has been out of stock for a while. A beautiful premiere, but now with “On the wreath” Collberg really lunges out.
Compare Collbergs album with current songwriters, and it’s his musical gamut that really stands out. The vibrant album cover, reflects the diversity and vitality of his style. Optimistic up-tempo-songs, for which the label of guitar pop was invented, aside of slower tracks and melodic ballads. It is no coincidence that the opener “Clouds of all your rain” reminds us of the Go-Betweens’ legendary rain song (“Spring Rain”). The intense “To the road” starts out with a tune similar to Bob Dylan’s “New Morning” and develops into a euphoric Pop song. “Clementine” unfolds in exemplary fashion, the track starts like a ballad with a sluggish beat which gets twisted into a classical mid-tempo-groove, finally unfolding its beauty in the chorus.
Finesses like these that can be found in plenty: In “Man in the moose suit” Collberg seems to resurrect John Lennon, and Badly Drawn Boy would probably have liked to have ‘Plastic Bows’ on their “About a Boy” soundtrack. Songs like “Garbage day” or “The tide below” offer a glimpse into the Scandinavian Pop tradition and remind us of bands like El Perro del Mar, the Cardigans or Kings of Convenience. These comparisons are obvious: yet regardless of which reference one draws upon, the carefree, happy-go-lucky mood of Andrew Collbergs work is what stands out. Nothing about “On the wreath” seems artsy-fartsy or overblown. These songs broadcast – also due to the characteristic warm voice of the artist – a natural beauty which touches and seduces the heart. It defines Andrew Collberg’s style and also holds high addiction potential for the audience. A great discovery!
Every track on “On the wreath” was penned by Andrew Collberg. The final track “Make it right” was co-written by Connor Gallagher. The recordings were done with Collberg’s live band in the Upstairs Studio (Tucson, Arizona) and produced by Nick Luca. The band: drums: Arthur Vint, bass: Ian Stapp, guitar: Connor Gallagher.