The Azure Sea – Rasmus Fynbo (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

When I was writing about Rasmus Fynbos 7 track collection which went by the name of Please Panic! earlier in the year, I waxed lyrical about his ability to write and deliver pop-aware, folk- and indie-infused songs, a fine collection of his creations that hit the mark with the confidence of a “Best Of” album. It is a rare thing to find in this age where many albums heading into mainstream waters seem destined to be more filler than killer, padding for a much-hyped single which is destined to do much of the heavy lifting. But, surely that would be a hard act to follow? Surely he couldn’t maintain those high standards?

So does The Azure Sea live up to its predecessor? Right from the off, it is clear that Fynbo‘s signature ability to deftly mix sonic infectiousness with musical adventure is all over the record. In particular, The Rabbit Hole is a glorious mix of 60’s folk-rock whimsey and timeless thoughtfulness, musing on ideas of getting lost in new information, new experiences, new sensations…I think.. and it bounces along on a slightly psychedelic-folk lilt of the type that we hear precious little enough of today.

The title track is built on more modern vibes, sitting somewhere between The Waterboy Mike Scott’s more understated balladic deliveries and lyrical poeticism, and the more modern experiments going on that seek to merge folk, indie and pop into something that is both light and accessible, yet loaded with authenticity and integrity.

Soon, we find ourselves back Down The Rabbit Hole, this time an almost fairy-tale take on the vocals and klezmer-driven spiral of groove and grace and Below The Waves also has a similarly fantastical and ethereal, vibe about it. For Others To Shine is a gorgeously buoyant piece of folk that sits with one foot in the generic traditions of the past and the other striding out confidently into what comes next, part accessible roots and part pop poise, reminding us that folk, as much as any other style of music, can move with the times, in fact, it has to move with the times.

As well as the usual range of sonic weapons, The Azure Sea is shot through with instruments that might be considered fairly niche today, certainly in the musical realms that he walks. But it is the clarinet and oud, mandolin, dobro and accordion, cello and violin inclusions that make this album stand out from the pack so readily. It is also a masterstroke of collaboration and the input of 22 different musicians from 14 countries is exactly why it twists and turns stylistically, effortlessly merging genres and often hopping sonic demarkations altogether.

So has Rasmus Fynbo managed to reach the benchmark that he has set for himself on previous albums? Absolutely he has. But not just because the songs are again, accessible, memorable and sing-along-able (that’s a word, right?) but also because of the reinvention and adventure, the generic twists and musical quest to beat new pathways through the sonic pastures which lie before him. Should there be any other way of approaching the art of making music? In an ideal world, of course not.

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