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Sofia Talvik’s Americana has Swedish roots 

click to enlarge Swedish singer-songwriter Sofia Talvik gets to the roots of Americana music, and she’s got an impressive back catalog of eclectic songs to prove it. - JONAS WESTIN
  • Jonas Westin
  • Swedish singer-songwriter Sofia Talvik gets to the roots of Americana music, and she’s got an impressive back catalog of eclectic songs to prove it.

There’s a funny thing about Americana music. “America” is right there in the name, and the genre is indeed composed of various strains of American music — sometimes disparate enough to make for an eclectic, broad-ranging sound that defies simple categorization. Since it lacks the obvious “big money” industry mechanisms of, say, contemporary country radio, quite a few musicians and fans consider Americana to be a more honest or authentic expression of America’s ongoing musical traditions. And — here’s the interesting part — some of the best, most believable purveyors of this distinctly American tradition hail from other parts of the globe.

Swedish singer-songwriter Sofia Talvik is just one excellent example. While Talvik’s music certainly draws from her homeland’s musical traditions, a listen to the title track of her 2015 LP Big Sky Country reveals a nomadic travelogue through the Western United States, filled with palpable wanderlust and a keen eye for detail — both in the geographic and emotional sense. It’s not a very bold claim to say there’s far more of Hank Williams’ musical DNA to be found in Talvik’s songs than in most of Nashville’s current radio output.

Talvik’s ongoing 2019 world tour features a stop at the Black Rose Acoustic Society on Friday, May 10, where she’ll draw from her rich back catalog, and listeners will most likely get a preview of material from her upcoming album Paws of a Bear, which is due to be released in September. The album’s first single, the beguiling and plaintive “Take Me Home,” was released two weeks ago.

Over the course of 13 releases, including seven full-length LPs, Talvik’s songwriting displays a consistent gift for vivid storytelling while exploring a variety of stylistic avenues. Whether she’s producing ethereal takes on Swedish folk songs (the 2014 EP Folk), constructing mysterious chamber-pop (“The Garden,” from 2012’s The Owls Are Not What They Seem), or conjuring the “high and lonesome” spirit of the American West (“Dusty Heart, Empty Hand” from Big Sky Country), Talvik’s adventurous narratives are unified by her ever-captivating vocal performances.

Meanwhile, this week also brings something for local jazz fans to get excited about, as the highly acclaimed jazz pianist Lenore Raphael performs at the Gold Room on Thursday, May 9, presented by the Colorado Springs Conservatory.

A prodigy on her instrument, Raphael was already performing classical piano at Carnegie Hall in her teenage years, but after hearing Oscar Peterson live in concert, she turned her focus to jazz. Since then, critics have compared her playing not only to Peterson himself, but a veritable who’s-who list of jazz piano legends: Bud Powell, Bill Evans, George Shearing and even Thelonious Monk. Raphael has sold out performances at the Lincoln Center, The Blue Note and Birdland, performed at a wide array of festivals, earned two Grammy nominations and released 10 LPs, and many of her compositions have become standards of the jazz repertoire.

Raphael will be performing in a combo featuring drummer Jesse Simon, bassist Ken Walker and vibraphonist Steve Hobbs, and students and alumni from the Conservatory’s Jazz Combo will open the evening’s proceedings.

Meanwhile, in perhaps the most symmetrical show of the week, Stargazers Theatre plays host to a pair of duos on Thursday, May 9, when local favorites Lindsay & Jeremy and Joe & Katie Uveges will perform. The occasion will be both the first and last local appearance for Lindsay & Jeremy for the year, so don’t sleep on this one if you were hoping to catch the pair in the near future. Jeremy Facknitz (the “Jeremy” half of the duo, in case you couldn’t work that one out) is preparing for an extensive Canadian tour this summer, and will return to the Springs for a solo show backed by violinist David Siegel, cellist Mary Lindsay and bassist Marc Niehof in August.

Finally, the Colorado Springs- and Brooklyn-based synthwave/metalsynth duo Elay Arson, comprising multi-instrumentalist Daniel David Larson and guitarist Devin Harrison, dropped a compelling new two-track release, Pale Summer, earlier this month. While you can listen to it on their Bandcamp page, of course, I’d advise picking up your own copy on either cassette or vinyl (if you’re quick) when they take the Black Sheep stage on Friday, May 10. Joining Elay Arson are Denver-based deathwave act eHpH and Kansas City’s Y the Ghost.

Send news, photos, and music to collin@csindy.com.

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