Welcome back to JamBase's baker's dozen to the bright lights of the music world. Last time we heard from Jason Isbell.
Americans have a tendency to listen within their borders, making room only for the British, Canadians and occasional widely-sanctioned international sensations (Manu Chao, Buena Vista Social Club). It’s a shame because wonderful artists like Sweden’s Thomas Jonsson are out there waiting to peel your heart and head open, moving gently through the layers to get at slippery yet significant things in the human condition. Through three increasingly excellent albums under the name Thomas Denver Jonsson, this young artist has exhibited a soulfulness and unique way with melody & words that puts him right next to Sam Beam (Iron and Wine), Conor Oberst (Bright Eyes) and emerging upstarts like Daniel Martin Moore and John McCauley (Deer Tick).
The fathoms deep feeling and gently leaping poetic language of Jonsson’s work is one of those magical, humanizing sounds. His is music that generates a connection with listener by seeping into our internal lexicon in such an unforced way that we feel we know the artist behind it. Built up from Jonsson’s acoustic picking and pleasingly crackled voice, his songs offer thoughtful layering and choice spotlights for the considered instrumentation, his collaborators playing with rare empathy that delivers his compositions in a most graceful shape.
Jonsson has ditched his own name in favor of the new moniker I’m Kingfisher. The first chapter in this new story is Arctic (Playground Music), which further pares away anything but just what each song needs, dancing between lonely sparseness and a lushness that’s breathtaking. Peppered with curious titles like “Feline Funeral,” “Smile With Your 1000 Teeth” and “Willing Night Plants,” Arctic feels like a message from another country but not one on any cartographer’s map. There’s a hunger and lust for life here, but always marbled through with painful honesty. And there’s the beautiful, complex way Jonsson uses words, where even familiar things gain a strange new glow.
A faceless mass is growing
Outside, holding the pride
Like a Bible, this will fit you
like a glove
I’m sorry, the horse is
bleeding, aching out in
Ride me now
The world is presented to us with Jonsson’s fresh eyes on Arctic, stories sung in a an aching, wisdom-soaked tongue, a timbre much older than his 32 years. Splashed with electric guitar storms, trumpet flights and backwoods skip and filled with faithful deceptions and flashes of first light, Arctic confirms Thomas Jonsson as an evolutionary artist that grows stronger with each year and each new release. Hopefully, U.S. audiences will soon open up to him the way they recently have to fellow Swede Kristian Matsson (aka The Tallest Man On Earth). (Dennis Cook)
I'm Kingfisher - Artic by Playground Music
Here's what Thomas had to say to our inquiries.
1. Great music rarely happens without…
| Thomas Jonsson by Gustav Adbåge|
Love for animals
2. The first album I bought was…
First CDs was a box set of 50's-60's stuff, first real album was Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
3. The last song or album to really flip my wig was…
James Blake's "The Wilhelm Scream"
4. When I was a kid I wanted to grow up to be…
5. My favorite sort of gig is…
When people are giving a big, spontaneous cheer as soon as I enter the stage and I get so happy I just mess everything up during the first few songs until I get focused again.
6. One thing I wish people knew about me is…
I do the moonwalk.
7. I love the sound of…
Elina Johansson singing
8. One day I hope to make an album as fantastic as…
M Ward's Transfiguration of Vincent
9. The best meal I ever had on tour was at…
Zuni in Ferrara, Italy
10. I always find the coolest audiences in…
Piotrków Trybunalski, Poland
11. The worst habit I've picked up being on the road all the time is…
Singing in public - off stage that is.
1 2. The Beatles or the Stones? Por qué?
The Rolling Stones, but I must admit, in my world most decent bands beat The Beatles.
13. The craziest thing I ever saw was…
A taxi driver taking me and the band on a real near-death-experience from the venue to the hotel at the European tour we did five years ago. He was so wasted on speed, listening to acid house, laughing hysterically and being hostile at the same time, driving at a ludicrous speed the wrong direction through what it seemed like all one-way-streets in the city centre. I was even more stupid though ‘cause I gave his car a big kick once we got out and that was when the real trouble began.
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