Label: Frontiers 2012
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom
Sonic Station, a Swedish soft-music project (a fusion of Pop, Rock, Jazz, and Westcoast) put together by guitarist/composer Alexander Kronbrink while studying at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm. He teamed up with Marika Willstedt, a singer and piano player and this collaboration turned out to be the beginning of this very record where Marika is responsible for most lyrics as well as singing lead on five of the ten tracks feat vocals. She's also a well known (and posh? well, she couldn't be bothered...) artist and session musician in Sweden after appearing as pianist and teamleader in a prime time music tv-show aimed at old folks and various geezers on national television (Så Ska Det Låta).
Kronbrink started out playing jazzy compositions with his friend and neighbour Jonathan Fritzén (today a star in the smooth jazz genre with several number one hits on the Billboard jazz charts in the states), before discovering the music of Steely Dan, Kenny Loggins, David Foster, Chicago, guitarist Jay Graydon, etc. Hint the roots and do not expect to find any roaring guitars on the record. I always skip track one as it's one extremely boring and long instrumental piece. "Love's Gonna Show The Way" featuring vocalist Magnus Bäcklund, mostly known as the male singer of the pop duo: Fame, and yes, you might have seen them in the EuroVision Song Contest (zzz). Typical vocal harmonies in the tradition of Chicago, The Doobie Brothers (Michael MacDonald), Hall & Oates, quite similar to their arrangements too and there's a nice hook indeed.
"I Wish I Could Lie", feat. Marika and it's a more airy, poppy, polished piece with a nice flow. "Hold On To Me", feat. vocalist Kristoffer Fogelmark, kicks off with a saxophone and it's obviously a jazzy westcoast compostition. "You Have To Let Me Go" feat. Tove Lo, the most uptempo rocking track of them all and more like a fusion of eighties and todays female fronted pop (a lot of 'todays pop' sound like the eighties anyhow). "The Most Beautiful Fear", (feat. Bäcklund) could just as easily have been one of those remakes by Michael Bolton as it reeks of late 60s as well as Westcoast. "Running Through The Night" (feat. Marika) could/should be a radio friendly song of todays standard. Closing track, "Reasons", (feat. Marika) basically a soul ballad and most likely inspired by "Didn't We Almost Have It All" (R.I.P. Whitney).
Where to draw the line between Pop and Rock? Does it really matter? I believe it's vital to some while others couldn't frankly give a damn. It's all down to the quality of the music and what better way to find out the truth than leaving it up to yours truly? Yes, the almighty reviewer has spoken and it's once again utter b.s. Too many so called "music journalists" are taking themselves too seriously, especially since they wouldn't know a 'hit' even if the afore-mentioned would end up right between their eyes. The bottomline: The work of professionals, a tad too neat as the Swedes tend to keep things clean and sterile. This is however my truth and opinion and perhaps you should also trust your own instinct in the matter? A solid but hardly earth shattering ultra-soft effort.