Svartanatt – Starry Eagle Eye (The Sign Records)

Svartanatt – Starry Eagle Eye (The Sign Records)

Superior retro rock from Sweden...

Swedes Svartanatt – the name translates roughly to Black Night, keep this in mind – are one of the now-multitudinous band of bands who are looking to the early seventies for inspiration.

Seriously, it’s almost as if the last forty years had been written off as a bad job when you look around and see the amount of flares and unkempt beardage littering the modern musical landscape…

Gratifyingly, alongside the usual suspects, influence-wise, Svartanatt add some rather more original hues to the overly purple, velveteen palette. There are large portions of Starry Eagle Eye where the band look to the British pub rock scene just prior to the punk explosion of the mid seventies; consequently names like Dire Straits and the Steve Gibbons Band can be added to the usual Rainbow Heep and Deep Sabbath reference points.

Almost every song features some superbly intuitive lead playing from guitarists Jani Lehtinen (who also sings) and Felix Gåsste, a pair of players who complement each other beautifully on tracks like Wrong Side of Town and the excellent epic centrepiece of the record, Wolf Blues.

The band resist the compulsion that snags many bands playing the seventies at forty years remove of adding more recent touches to the sound. There are no big drums press ganged from the eighties here, just as there are no over processed guitar tones. Hence the title track absolutely does have an authentic whiff of the time it seeks to reproduce; Lehtinen and Gåsste really do sound like the Knopfler brothers jamming on an unreleased Dire Straits track from the debut album here, the loosely strummed rhythm guitars coalescing into beautiful harmony leads in timeless and oh-so accurate fashion.

Martin Borgh adds keyboards to the mix in tasteful style, providing nice backup to the guitars and stepping into the spotlight as required, but the whole thing would be brought down to pub-tribute band level despite all this virtuosity if the songwriting was poor. Luckily it isn’t, with the band showing time and again that they have not only the chops but also the songwriting smarts to live in parity with their heroes. This is a really great album, and one which I think you’ll love if well thought-out and supremely executed ‘old fashioned’ rock from Pink Floyd to Graham Parker and the Rumour get your musical juices flowing.

Starry Eagle Eye is out now on The Sign Records.

Scott Adams

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