Rootsy.nu Magnus Eriksson
( English translation by Ingvar Loco Nordin )
The Swedish singer Sophie Dunér creates a profoundly distinctive music. Basically she’s a jazz singer. But she broadens improvisation, without abandoning her jazz base. Art music provides a point of connection, but also rock and completely free improvisation. In a song like Happy People on the new record The City of My Dreams Sophie Dunér hisses in the spirit of Patti Smith in a terrific flow of melody and text, without forsaking tonality. That is challenged on other tracks.
Sophie Dunér’s earlier record The Rain in Spain was a quartet record with bass, guitar & percussion. In spite of the singer’s desire to challenge and investigate borders, it was chiefly a jazz record. Now The Sophie Dunér Quartet has become The Sophie Dunér String Quartet. She is accompanied by a string quartet (with varying members) and a bass.
The instrumental setting announces the art musical and avant-garde touch of the music, but ultimately it’s Sophie Dunér’s fantastic singing that renders the music its character. Feline she switches from the low-key and intimate into virtuoso pirouettes high up in the registers, as swift and imperceptibly as she slides from semi-smoky cabaret atmospheres into expressive atonalities.
But the rapid changes never become technical ends in themselves. Each composition on the CD (seventeen; the songs are brief) reflects a lucid idea, containing an atmosphere contoured by the string quartet; a defined mood within which Sophie Dunér then moves. Or, rather: she moves within the given frames, while simultaneously challenging the implied limits of the arrangement. All the atmospheric and emotional nuances of the musical expression that Sophie Dunér creates through her brilliant vocal art are fitted into the musical mood according to its own logic.
And this logic is naturally preliminary, prospecting and exploring; never definitive or dogmatic. The music never gets stuck in a given form. It is shaped by Sophie Dunér’s ideas, whims and vocal will, and Tony Heimer’s quartet arrangements become just as much an open and unbiased dialogue partner as an atmosphere-inducing framework.
The music of Sophie Dunér is open and challenging, but also immediate in its address, or in its swiftly shifting approach. It’s also prodigiously beautiful in its searching and exploring aesthetic values.