In a funny way ‘Mod’ became a contradiction almost from the point the name was coined. After all, how can you be Modernist when you’re adhering to rules and styles laid down in 1965?
The answer, of course, is that fashion is temporary, but style is timeless – and Magnus Carlson certainly aims towards timeless style on his blue-eyed soul full length ‘A Nordic Soul’.
A wonderfully rich 14-track collection, the album matches some sterling self-penned material with a handful of choice covers, pitting Motown and Northern Soul influences against something grittier.
‘From Now On’ and ‘Now That It’s Over’ is a superb opening one-two, before Magnus steers the excellent band into a poised, energetic cover of the Mod dancefloor classic ‘Beggin’.
Produced by Andy Lewis at Paul Weller’s Black Barn Studios, ‘A Nordic Soul’ pits some supremely soulful elements against some Nordic melancholia, a bittersweet feeling that underlines the material of the songwriting on display.
‘What If’ looks at the impact of poverty, while the acoustic-led ‘Wait For Love To Grow’ is a Style Council-esque longing for amour, while knowing it might never arrive.
When Magnus wants to emulate club sounds, though, he does so with no small degree of distinction. ‘The Torch’ half-inches its name from a seminal Northern Soul club, and it’s a Dexys style stomper, the clanging piano chords rubbing up against some emphatic brass.
‘I Surrender’ is crisp soulful flair, the sort of thing that will have Wigan Casino fans reaching for their talcum power. ‘Broken Promise Land’ meanwhile is an exhibition for Magnus’ powerful, pirouetting vocal, a beat ballad worthy of The Walker Brothers or even Roy Orbison.
Much more than merely emulating its influences ‘A Nordic Soul’ has the confidence to play with them, to use them as a means to find something personal. Distinctive, engrossing, and – yes – stylish, it’s as crisp as the first ride on a Vespa scooter, as affectionately tailored as a three button Mohair suit.
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