Review: Sambassadeur – European

The funny thing about Sambassadeur is that it took me a few weeks to actually check out their video that my buddy posted on my Facebook page. Once I did though, I immediately bought everything of theirs I could find on Amazon. So far, I’ve ended up with European, New Moon EP, Migration, and their self-titled first full-length CD. All of them are fantastic.

I got into the Cranberries in the middle of 1994. I don’t think Everyone Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We? had been out too terribly long when I stumbled across that little gem. My first reaction was, “Hmm. Catchy. Sing-songy. I can get into this.”

Same thing with these guys. The difference is time and location. Delores et al are now kind of in a state of indefinite hibernation, whereas these guys had a great new release in European just this past year. Sambassadeur is from Swenen; Cranberries … still European, but from the Emerald Isle.

There sure isn’t much info to be found on these guys. The most helpful page I found was on Last.fm. Even that is kind of scant, but it’s what we have. Even their own website basically refers you out to the Myspace page. Tragic. I refuse to pull up a single Myspace page for the ridiculous amounts of virii I’ve caught from their site in the past. I’m just not willing to risk it.

Some of the standout tracks include the 3rd on the CD. “I Can Try” is up-beat with a kind of Abba sound to it, but the subject matter … not so sure. If I’m hearing the lyrics right, this is a person who’s looking for something new after wading through some pretty dark times. What those dark times are left to interpretation, but I’m guessing it’s dealing with relationships. I mean, with a chorus like, “I can try to leave behond the wishful and the wiled, the ivory skyline of your smile. I can wipe you off in time and revise the play in mind my mind. I can try. There’s another way of thinking thoughts to say–another way of knowing paths to take. I can try to find a heart, and I can find a way to make it start.” It’s a seriously catchy song.

The song that hooked me–“Forward Is All”–is another great track. I love the rumbling timpani (at least I *think* that’s a timpani …) and the string section.

This is not to say at all that Anna and the boys are a Cranberries rip-off. Far from it. Yes–the styles are similar. However, they also have their definitive sound. Lots of the tracks have string backgrounds, all of which are well-layered and mixed.

Anna Persson has her own distinct voice that perfectly blends with the mellowness that exudes from all Sambassadeur music. Seriously … this stuff reminds me of lying on a beach chair, watching and listening to the waves relentlessly crash on the sand as you sip your drink and watch the sun lazily roll across the sky, heading for the inevitable horizon that brings such incredible hues and tones to what would already be considered a perfect day.

Again, I don’t know who plays what other instruments, but I can say this: whoever plays bass is slick. I mean … the bass lines aren’t anything like Geddy Lee or Les Claypool-like in their intensity or complexity, but they don’t have to be to be excellent. They’re subtle, they’re complimentary to the strings and guitar (yes … I know that the guitar is a string instrument … shut up), which really could be said of just about any good bassist, but really … there’s something different. Something perfectly in synch with the whole band. Some bands’ bassists just seem to be there, throwing down a non-useful and very forgettable bass line (yes–I mean you, Michael Anthony. Not that it’s your fault, living in Edward’s shadow …)

All three parts–guitar, bass and drums, combined with the strings, at times add a very slight edge of phreneticism that beautifully accentuates the subject matter. The last half of “Sandy Dunes” sounds pretty similar to the first half, but there’s just a different feel. The guitar is just a bit more intense. The bass line is just a hair more accentuated. The drums fills have just that extra “oomph” to them. Combine all of that, and there’s just something that evokes more emotion than you would have assumed with the first half of the song.

I have to give my buddy Russ an incredible shout-out for these guys. He and I throw musical ideas and suggestions across facebook like Serena and Venus volley tennis balls in their free time. Except we’re guys, and we’d probably suck at tennis … but we definitely do *not* suck at music suggestions. To Russ: I owe you for these guys. In them, I have my new work music set for the foreseeable future. They’re relaxing in times of chaos. They bring a mellowness heretofore unachieved by just about anyone. Not even Alison Shaw and Cranes have this affect, and I freakin’ LOVE them.

You’ll like these guys if you like:

  • The Cranberries
  • The Sundays
  • Frente’!

If any of those band appeal to you, pick up Sambassadeur’s entire discography. NOW. If not, pick up their CDs anyway cuz your life cannot continue on its present course and not be as genuinely moved and happy as you could be if you had these guys.

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