Monday, 9 February 2009

A Camp - Colonia

Away from the day job as lead singer of The Cardigans, Nina Persson delivers the second album from her side project A Camp after a hiatus of 8 years. Colonia is a relaxed, less forced sounding album than the most recent output from her other band, that ruminates in a melancholy way on the nature of love and life. Take, for example, the song I Signed The Line where Nina sweetly sings “So don’t give me platinum it just weighs me down,” hinting at the breakdown of a relationship, be it a personal one or maybe even that of her other group.

Colonia is a mature sounding pop album, with a slightly wider musical remit than the A Camp debut. There are touches of Shangri La’s sixties girl band stylings on Here Are Many Wild Animals and sumptuous cinematic strings on It’s Not East To Be Human. Persson’s ice cream voice remains utterly recognisable throughout, bringing an often wistful inward looking feel to the songs whilst retaining some lovely melodies, particularly on Love Has Left The Room and the personal sounding Golden Teeth and Silver Medals, a duet with Nicolai Dunger, where Nina and Nicolai refer to each other by their first names in the songs lyrics. “Do you think you’re happy Nicolai?” Nina questions. “I don’t know the answer Nina,” he responds. Single Love Is Stronger Than Jesus is also good enough to just about get away with its shots of brass and pints of organ sound by having a chorus that gradually seeps its way into your head.

Colonia has been recorded with many of Persson’s musician friends. There are appearances from Joan Wasser of Joan As Policewoman, ex Smashing Pumpkin James Iha, Guided By Voices’ Kevin March on drumming plus Nina’s husband Nathan Larson who plays all manner of instruments. The danger of involving so many experienced musicians is that an album can degenerate into a display of muso cleverness, but for the most part Colonia avoids this trap, with reigns just tightened enough. However there are moments when the horse bolts into a pit of easy listening schmaltz and middle of the road average housewife respectability such as on the brassy My America and the rather dull The Weed Had Got There First. There are plenty of attempts at good song craft here, but there is a danger that they could easily become just background music.

This is the sound of Nina Persson the adult. It is hardly likely to sell by the bucket load. However it is undoubtedly an album Nina wanted to make, with her friends, free of commercial pressure.

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