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Jon Magnusson – Psalms for Sinners

Stockholm’s Jon Magnusson has unleashed a confident EP which manages to be more eclectic in four tracks than most artists can muster across a full album.

Saving the actual A side until later, the EP kicks off with Visa Från Utanmyra, a jazz infused appetiser with beautifully plucked folk guitar. It’s folk in the same way that Sigur Ros’ backing musicians, Amiina, are folk, warm, yet with a definite Scandinavian shiver. Track two, Ode to a Friend, is more pop. layers of acoustic guitar and a strong melody are reminiscent of The Lightning Seeds. The downbeat lyric about a lost childhood friend has echoes of Disco 2000 but with lest of the ironic wit. The strong tune prevents it sounding too maudlin. It’s a great arrangement but I’d really love to hear it with a real drum kit and a string section, rather than the midi. I hope that this release gets Jon enough attention to send some funds his way, as it would be great to hear him take another pass at this song with higher production values.

Title track, Psalm for Sinners, features a punchier sound and some pleasing multi-tracked vocals. Those midi drums are back but extra percussion on top makes this sound a lot fuller and more organic. The melody is dead catchy and had me wracking my brains to think of where I’ve heard it before. It’s Rudie Can’t Fail by The Clash, as it turns out, but Jon’s dead pan vocal makes it his own. Perky stuff.

Finally, Your Dreams, finishes things with the most directly punky song of the four tracks on offer. Electric guitar, and a decent Jerry Lee Lewis piano part in the chorus, make this a spirited closer, and probably what ought to be the A side. This is the strongest song on the record and the most notably crying out for a full band to realise Magnusson’s rock and roll ambitions.

This stuff has all the hooks and pace of Jack Peñate’s first album, or a Nordic Housemartins, which is bags of fun for all concerned. Any drummers looking for a decent songwriter to get behind in Stockholm? Look no further.

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