Peter J. Levinson on Anders Holst’s CD Five

Anders Holst’s collection of songs on the album Five is based on his wide breadth of life experiences. It reveals that the man is his music. His songs cover s a wide range of emotions, romance, hope, loneliness, disillusionment, and optimism with equal sensitivity. The inherent conviction contained in his songs, he is the co-composer and lyricist of all of them, except for Verrazano Bridge, finds him completely open and unafraid to expose his own vulnerabilities. This is a unique voice and the work of a true artist.

 

Born and raised in Sweden, traveling the world, Anders Holst’s songs projects his innate understanding of how the world works, the human condition and of life’s many ups and downs. As a comparison, one could evoke the work of Leonard Cohen with the point being the strong mature sensitivity factor shared by both artists, and one could sense the influences from artists like Van Morrison, Paul McCartney, and Sting.

 

The mood and atmosphere contained in these songs can be considered a mixture of such disparate names and compositions as David Bowie’s “Low”, Antonio Vivaldi’s “Adagios”, and the melancholic folk music contained in Jan Johansson’s “Jazz in Swedish”, interpreted in the vein of adult contemporary music.

 

The album “Five” is an intimate musical travelogue with a departure in the song “Never Look Back”, which deals with the troubled viewpoint of its protagonist, living with anger and seeking retribution with his attempt to “stay on the straight and narrow track”.

 

“Love me like a river” inspired dramatic and compelling video, produced by Cleo-award winning director and filmmaker Peter Israelson, in which the leading character carries himself with an understated assurance. The haunting melody and mystery of the song is underlined by David Wilczewski’s soprano saxophone. “You can carry me over and make my heart believe”, seems to convey the entire story.

 

“Anfield Road” is a call for relying on inner strength. The metaphor contained in the lyrics is derived from the sign that reads “You never walk alone”, at Liverpool FC’s home ground. This is the sentiment passed on to a close and beloved young friend venturing forth in life. He will always be there for her. One walks through many places through life, but the most important place is, of course, inside of you.

 

The highly romantic song “Verrazano Bridge” involves looking back at a difficult relationship and how it ended on an “Indian summer morning” in New York. The lyrics illustrate the deep feelings by describing how the end of the love affair, “left us in the kind of blue and mellow Ellingtonian state of mind …” and the unusual metaphor for conveying the horror of September 11 by the dust “fades into the mist just like a Benny Goodman record on the radio”, followed by a wistful piano solo by jazz musician Mats Byström.

 

Tenor saxophonist Gerald Albright, one of the key purveyors of smooth jazz, beautifully states the lovely melody line in the final selection “Until the end of time”. There is a pledge of absolute commitments to his loved one, which will overcome any obstacles that they might face in the years ahead. The rewards for openness and devotion are celebrated. This is the perfect closer to provide an all-encompassing study of romantic love and inspiration.