SVER – Reverie (Folkhall Records FHR002CD)

ReverieIn celebration of their ten years as a quintet, SVER release their fourth album, Reverie. Recorded live over two days and steeped in Nordic tradition, SVER’s tight-knit musicianship, versatility and sense of sheer enjoyment simply shines through. The band may describe their sound as ‘folk-rock’ but it gleefully transcends obvious categorisation.

SVER’s band members – Olav Luksengård Mjelva (fiddle/hardanger fiddle), Anders Hall (fiddle/viola), Leif Ingvar Ranøien (two row accordion), Adam Johansson (guitar) and Jens Linell (drums) – share an astonishing quality of flow and interplay, smoothly passing melodic phrases and thematic variations, seamlessly and gently leading the listener’s focus from one instrument to another.

Mjelva and Hall (familiar from their Nordic Fiddlers Bloc collaboration with Kevin Henderson) create a pair of delightfully dextrous polkas in each other’s honour. Mjelva embellishes Sjur Viken’s twisting, lively, ‘Lille Grisen’ (‘The Little Pig’), its lithe, taut fiddle pivoting around the drums. In contrast, Andreas Bjørkås’s ‘Lassi’ is an angular, muscular beast of loose, bending notes and a slurring fiddle phrase.

Guitarist Johansson’s ‘E14’ (the name of the road to his home, rather than Canary Wharf’s postcode) is beaty but mellow, the pace gradually accelerating with the joy of returning home, including some rather funky guitar and, unusually, a fade-out. His ‘Annas Vals’ is equally hard to define, with different instruments carrying the slow and tender air by turns, as the rest slide softly around it. The cacophonic clatter of ‘Boot’N Rally’ opens out into a pure, clean guitar that lures the listener onwards to an irresistibly wiggly dance tune.

Mjelva takes on the remaining composition honours, starting with a sweetly rolling tune for his girlfriend, ‘The Doctor’. ‘Batch 15’ is a tight little jig whose woozily reflective mid-point (that moment when you get a bit head-spinny, realise that your legs don’t work any more and order another pint anyway) goes on to ramp the energy back again with a masterful control of pace. The contemplative ‘Reverie’ is probably as dark as this album gets, but is followed by a most light-hearted homage to 70s tv show The Love Boat. A slow fiddle, joined by accordion and guitar, plays a variation on the show’s theme tune, any brief illusion of tastefulness rapidly evaporating in an explosive jazz-rock finale loaded with extra cheese.

Su O’Brien

Artists’ website:

‘The Doctor’:

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