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Albin Lee Meldau - About You

(Vinyl LP)

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When you distill the 13 breathtaking songs on Albin Lee Meldau's debut About You down to their essence, you'll arrive at the Swedish singer/songwriter's motivation: "Storytelling," he says. "That's what will matter in the long run. If I achieve that, I'm happy. Anyone can sing." First and foremost, Albin considers himself a musical journalist who not only documents what he feels, but also what he sees. But before you discover his gift for weaving emotion, detail and humanity into a unique blend of classic soul and modern pop production, you will hear his voice and be bowled over. Maybe anyone can sing, but as NPR writes, "Few singers can command an audience's attention quite like Albin Lee Meldau. His voice is breathtaking, soulful, thunderous and impossible to ignore."

Indeed, on About You those pipes of his connect a rich history of rhythm and blues – Al Green, Van Morrison – to contemporary innovators like James Blake, Sam Smith and Hozier. The music does that too, swelling from spare guitar or piano-backed ballads, to Ronson-like mashups of hip-hop beats and sweeping strings, to hands-in-the-air soul-soaked dance-pop. That's no doubt got a bit to do with Albin's collaborators: writers like Jimmy Napes (Sam Smith, Disclosure), DJ Khalil (Anderson .Paak), and Neil Ormandy (James Arthur), plus producers Bastian Langebaek (Jessie Ware, Jack Garratt) and Jamie Scott (Rag'n'Bone Man, Ed Sheeran).

But lest you assume such a who's who would sway a young artist from his mission, consider the fact that the haunting, unadorned song which introduced him to the world in 2015, "Lou Lou," is perfectly at home on About You. And that's where we come back to the storytelling: Just as that tune documents heartache as a woman close to Albin succumbs to madness, its neighboring songs are deeply poignant. "They're little novels about life from a man who's heartbroken, who's had his problems, who is weird," says Albin. "It's a breakup record and the start of something else."

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