It was only one year and a couple of months since Bo Stagman (aka known as Zinny Zan) released his debut album under the Stagman moniker where he sang in his native tongue for the first time ever – and now he’s already back with the the follow-up Moder Jord (Mother Earth) – it sure seems like he’s on a creative high right now. The fact that the album – Är Ni Kvar Där Ute (Are You Still Out There) – was sung in Swedish wasn’t only new for him, it was just as out there for his fans as well, so it’s understandable that he must have been nervous of how the record would be received. But he needn’t have worried at all, the album got shitloads of rave reviews and his fans seems to have embraced his new me totally. To be honest, I have never been that big on music sung in Swedish and I can probably count the artists that I like that sings in Swedish on one hand. I just don’t think it sounds right, for the most part.
So when Stagman told me about his choice about singing in Swedish and going in a more singer-song writer / rock direction, I cringed a bit. I mean, this was Zinny Zan, the guy who fronted Easy Action and Shotgun Messiah, two bands I adore! One of the coolest and best frontmen in Hard Rock. Ever! Damn! Would I like to hear a couple of songs, he asked. Yes, I would but I was scared to death because I thought I wouldn’t dig them and I didn’t want to have to tell him that. Well, it took me one listen to show my worries the door – the songs were good. Damn good. And when the album finally came out, I was floored. Thankfully, Stagman hadn’t lost the Rock at all, but this time the music was a little more laid-back, subdued and even brittle. But mostly, it was an honest, real and straight from the heart record. The listener was welcomed into Stagman’s life – with open arms. All that means that the preconditions have changed some with this album – this time there are expectations. Big ones.
The album opens with the title track, an uptempo rocker, fast and with lots of attitude – and attitude is something that is part of Stagman’s Rock DNA so that kinda came naturally. It’s a Rock tune for sure but more in the vein of someone like Bruce Springsteen but with Stagman’s personality all over it. The piano is highly instrumental for the Springsteen connection here. A brilliant track. “Är Det Rätta Vägen” (Is It The Right Way) is Pop done in a Rock way, but it also brings on Stagman’s Punk roots some as I can’t help to think of Thåström (a Swedish Punk icon) and his more synth-laden 80’s. The Punk here lies more in the attitude of the tune. The song really rocks with a punchy melody and a refrain catchy as hell. Awesome!
“Drömmar Om Silver” (Dreams Of Silver) comes with an enormous groove, a killer beat, big Rock riffs and the melodies are all highly memorable. The chorus is a jawbreaker, as catchy as it gets. This is a hit and must be a future single. Must be! “Minnenas Allé” (Memories’ Avenue) is a slow Pop song, a bit soft and laid-back and it comes with an 80’s Pop vibe albeit in a darker mood, very authentic. But the melody sticks right off the bat and even though it’s not a mainstream tune, I have a feeling it could gain quite a lot of airplay if released as a single – it could very well become a hit. “En Kärlekshistoria” (A Love Story) is a ballad that starts out stripped with only vocals, piano and a guitar that comes right from The Rolling Stones early 70’s. When the band comes in it gets heavied up but it never loses its melancholy. It’s a beautiful and powerful tune that’s grandiose. And it’s bloody fantastic.
“Stockholm Är Min Stad” (Stockholm Is My City) is an uplifting pop song filled with positivity but there’s a melancholic arrangement in there as well. This is probably the most radio-friendly tune so far but it’s by no means mainstream Pop for commercial top 40 radio. It also comes with a great groove and some damn memorable hooks. Great! “Innan Natten Blir Till Dag” (Before Night Turns To Day) is actually quite heavy and sound wise it’s really dark. Stagman’s Hard Rock roots makes themselves present here as well and the tune rocks with a good groove and sports a very distinct melody and a spot-on refrain – very, very good. “Ni Är Blinda, Ni Är Dumma” (You Are Blind, You Are Stupid!) rocks hard with a lot of attitude, it’s punchy and it’s heavy and lyrically, it’s really aggressive. Stagman is an Aerosmith fan and it shows here but the Stones surely must be an influence as well. The tune also comes with another chorus that’s impossible to resist. I wouldn’t be surprised if this became a hit on Rock radio. A real killer!
“Midnatt City (När Solen Går Ner)” (Midnight City – When The Sun Goes Down) is a poppy rocker that again brings Springsteen to mind but also – dare I write this? – New Jersey era Bon Jovi. It’s a positive sounding song that brings on a summer feel on the Melodic Rock side – very catchy and uplifting. It’s the first time I have ever heard Stagman do this kind of Rock but he does it with all the glory. Brilliant! As a closer we get “En Vanlig Söndagsblues” (An Ordinary Sunday Blues), a slow, stripped down bluesy ballad with a jazzy vibe where a saxophone comes in and brings up the dynamics. It’s a bit depressing but it touches you and lyrically, it’s something everyone surely can relate to – you can almost touch the angst, melancholy and sadness. Very strong. I can see Stagman playing this in a small, smoky club somewhere. Fan-bloody-tastic!
For the second time around, Stagman and his cohorts – the same gang as on the last album – have come up with a killer album. It’s pretty much a sister album to the debut but the gang have not repeated themselves here. It is alike the last record but at the same time totally different, if that makes any sense. Also, I can find connections to other artists here but the fact is, the Stagman gang have made sure he / they have a sound of their own, an identity which means you can spot a Stagman tune in a second – it’s very personal sounding. Just like on the debut, Stagman opens up his inner self here and invites you to share his world, his thoughts and his feelings – it just doesn’t get any more honest and real than this and I can’t find anything I don’t like here. For readers that don’t speak Swedish – you won’t understand one iota of what he’s singing about but it doesn’t matter, you don’t have to. You can feel the songs so I don’t hesitate a second to recommend this to you as well. Superb!
More Stagman reviews:
- Moder Jord
- Är Det Rätta Vägen?
- Drömmar Om Silver
- Minnenas Allé
- En Kärlekshistoria
- Stockholm Är Min Stad
- Innan Natten Blir Till Dag
- Ni Är Blinda, Ni Är Dumma!
- Midnatt City (När Solen Går Ner)
- En Vanlig Söndags Blues