There are times when a critic looks at an artist who is unknown and
just starting out, only to be impressed by how the artist doesn't
sound like they're just starting out. Look at The Migrant,
who has released his debut album, Travels In Lowland. An acoustic
singer/songwriter from Denmark, Mr. Migrant is going all out with
the idea of taking on a persona rather than using his own name. It's
a solid album that only suffers from some minor flaws and a couple
lesser songs. There's an interesting array of influences on display,
from Eastern music to Andrew Bird. The Migrant shows he has
a lot of talent and he knows how to use it.
Let's get right to the Eastern influences, because it is easily the
coolest song on the album. Sung in what sounds like Danish, "Gor
hvad du sagde du vil gore en dag" is an ambient combination of
flutes, guitars, and a medley of other instruments that create a wall
of sound which uses a lot of Eastern tonality. It's a song that relies
on mood rather than lyrics and it's easy to just get lost on the sound.
This is a common thread over the course of the album, since a lot
of the lyrics seem more like a Radiohead-style stream-of-consciousness
rambling rather than anything too coherent. "The Organ Grinder"
is a song that is just Migrant and guitar which uses the idea of lyrics
as mood creation, to give the impression of moving steadily in a car
through the countryside. It's a pleasant ride that serves as a nice
lead-in to the album, showcasing Migrant's interesting style of lyrics
and his flair for creating images with his music. "In The Sun"
is also a highlight, a swaying song where Migrant muses about love
as he strums his guitar in a jaunty 6/8 rhythm. It's a little more
upbeat and fun than the songs around it, which serves to keep things
from getting stale.
The downside of the album is that sometimes the incoherent lyrics
get frustrating. This is mainly when it sounds like he's trying to
make a point, but there's no sense of meaning, just random words strung
together. Whether this is a problem of the lyrics not translating
well or not I can't speak to, but it can be annoying later in the
album. The album's closer, "You Think You Know," is also
the weakest track on the album. It meanders around, as though it can't
decide what kind of song it wants to be. It also starts out by going
from whisper quiet, to loud and back, which can be startling if you
had the volume up or aren't expecting it. It's as though Migrant was
trying to experiment but it didn't quite work.
In the end, this is a solid singer/songwriter album from a man with
a lot of talent. If you're into quirky folk artists like Andrew Bird,
Sufjan Stevens, or the like, check this out. You might just
find that there's a lot to love about this album despite the few flaws
it does have. This is well worth your time and is likely the start
of a fruitful career for The Migrant, wherever his travels take him
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