[5 February 2009]
Recorded in the titular forest of Sweden, Skogsbo Is the Place is the first album by Stockholm septet Barr, a muted folk group whose music goes to great pains in order to evoke just such a wintery, pastoral setting (even their name is Swedish for “pine needle”). Appropriately, the vocals rarely rise above a hushed whisper, the acoustic guitar playing is gentle and clear, and the pace of the songs is languid and unhurried. In striving for an unfailing tone of pure tranquility, though, Barr prevent their songs from ever building up any kind of momentum, something that is particularly problematic given that most of the songs tend to average out to about six minutes in length. Impossible as it is to fault the instrumentation on this record (it is impeccable), it nevertheless remains all in the service of melodically inert songs that provide no foreground to the atmosphere. Striving to captivate with their meticulously crafted quiet, Skogsbo Is the Place is unfortunately far more likely to simply put listeners to sleep.