It has taken me a few days to take in Swedish singer Alice Boman’s long-awaited debut album, Dream On, released last Friday (January 17). Heartache echoes in every song, and sweeps you up into the arms of a variety of emotions and feelings, from intimacy, to loneliness, to intensity and confusion.
From Boman’s early sporadic releases, which played on the comfortable side of dark folk, I was more than pleasantly surprised by Dream On, an album which showcases the artist’s growth and engulfs you in an otherworldly land of wistfulness and hopelessness.
The intimate and vulnerable vocals leave a lump in your throat, and the haunting lyrics, repeated and harmonised for added intensity, bring a tear to your eyes in some places, and a sense of warmth in others. The echoing lyric “piercing through my heart” in the penultimate track This is Where it Ends is just one of many examples, and a lyric descriptive of how the voice of Boman pierces through the heart of the listener throughout the album.
The album is sprinkled with an ethereal quality made up of Boman’s delicate, hushed voice, and the magical warmth of instrumentation, carrying the music and the raw emotions through, leaving one in a hypnotic state throughout all ten songs, the very state Boman says she was in during the making of the album. The warmth I have mentioned is what emanates throughout. The more common intense melancholy, boldness and bitterness of break-up songs has been replaced by lullabies – still sad, raw, and lonely, but cosy, like a warm embrace of sadness… an oxymoron, I know, but take a listen and you might just get where I’m coming from.
Wish We Had More Time, for example, is dreamlike. It sparkles and shines, it glows like a toasty fire on a cold Sunday afternoon, but it’s also breath-taking and gut wrenching in it’s surrender to Boman’s fatalism, especially in the repetition of “I wish we had more time” which is carried gently by fairytale-esque instrumentation. The same can be said for Don’t Forget About Me, in it’s repetition of the title lyrics, before a minimal outro of hushed percussion allows for a few fleeting moments of reflection, echoing the hopeless reality that people once so important can become strangers very quickly.
What strikes me with the entirety of the album, is that the common need to retain pride has been replaced by intense and overt yearning, a theme that overrides Dream On. The first verse of Everybody Hurts swerves between questioning and longing: “Where are you tonight? I want to dance with you again”; “Who are you holding now? Is she everything that I am not?”. The confidence in allowing wistful feelings to take over is astonishing. The heaviness of the subjects, however, remains breathable on Boman’s album. A sense of clarity is achieved through the balancing of the lyrical emotion and darkness with the ethereal indie-pop instrumentation, offering a contrasting brightness, a feat no doubt made possible by producer Patrik Berger.
Definitely give it a listen if you haven’t already!
Keep up with Alice through the links below: