Secret Garden Snippet - Anders Holst - Five

andersholst2.jpgReaders of Denis Poole�s Secret Garden will know it�s the place to go for a British perspective on all that�s good, and not so good, in the world of smooth jazz and classic soul. In order to bring you more of the news more of the time this latest Secret Garden Snippet delivers another current sound bite from the adult contemporary scene. One of the more unusual recent releases is the CD Five from Swedish born vocalist Anders Holst. Its unusual for the fact that with only five tracks it is essentially the equivalent of a 1960�s �EP� and its unusual because Holst�s voice has none of the usual R & B influence that tends to permeate the bulk of smooth jazz vocal recordings. There is something of Michael Franks in his voice, something reminiscent of Peter Skellern and, hidden in there somewhere perhaps, the wistfulness of Leonard Cohen. Anders Holst, who is now based in New York, has co-composed four of the five tracks and the entire album is characterized by consistently excellent production.

�Never Look Back� is a rolling number with the injection of excellent strings that serves to set the track apart while �Love Me Like A River� is a dreamy tune with understated sax and lyrics that fit well with Holst�s vocal style. �Anfield Road�, being the home stadium of European Champions Liverpool Football Club, is a tenuous link to that clubs famous �You�ll Never Walk Alone� anthem although here used in a strictly non soccer context. It�s likely the majority of listeners in the USA will completely miss the point but it�s a nice tune nevertheless. The hugely Skellern like �Verrazano Bridge� does what good ballads do best in inviting the listener to be absorbed by the story the song is telling and the feel good �Until The End Of Time� is a nice uplifting love song that benefits from guest appearances by Gerald Albright and Paul Jackson Jr. on saxophone and guitar respectively.

Nice and uplifting is an apt description for the entire collection. Holst never gets remotely close to being soulful yet his voice is at times compelling and both the musical arrangements and supporting artists is top notch throughout.

The fact that Five is, for many reasons, out of the ordinary may yet present Anders Holst and his management with their biggest challenge. Ultimate success will hinge on finding appropriate routes to market in order to match what Holst has created to an appreciative listening public. Only time will tell if they can pull it off yet there deserves to be a place for an album like Five that dares to be different.

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