Sven Larsson - 'Sunlight And Shadow' (Avenue of Allies) Print E-mail
CD Reviews
Written by Russ P   
Tuesday, 16 March 2010 07:00

svenlarsson176pxI'm sure that I wouldn't be too far from the mark if I described Sven Larsson as a guitarist first and foremost. And, as such, the guitar worshipping fraternity who have Joe Satriani as their unlikely shaven poster boy would probably best appreciate his music. 


But wait. Fortunately for us Sven Larsson seems to be something of a guitar whiz that likes song writing. I kid you not. Perhaps this unlikely combo hasn't had such a successful pairing since Eric Johnson first came on the scene.


But even this is not quite right because Sven is perhaps the first virtuoso that I've heard who puts his guitar firmly in second place and brings the songs centre stage.


Title track 'Sunlight And Shadow' utilises a proggy Andy Summers-like counter rhythm and a chorus that makes a detour into some unusual dissonant and rich chord work. The solo starts out deceptively restrained and melodic before weighing anchor and steaming through some ultra fast sweeps - just as if Neal Schon had taken a couple of lessons off Yngwie Malmsteen.  'Eagle' has one foot firmly in the land of Steely Dan and one foot in the land of Toto. The song slowly rocks from one side to the other, from the jazzy piano verses to the riff-ilicious melodic choruses. 'This Is Not The Right Time' is a smooth and subdued song with a world music vibe running through it that reminds me of Trevor Rabin's work and is all the more appealing because of it.


'Daydreamer' sees the Steely Dan influences returning and, with them, some other purveyors of the unexpected: Nik Kershaw and Allan Holdsworth. But, dominating them all, is the towering colossus of It Bites evident everywhere from the single note riffing right down to the traded guitar and synth solos. Midway through we come to the first instrumental: 'Tube'. I'm surprised that he's held out this long. It's a slow and airy melodic piece, which glides, over cloudy pads of synth strings allowing Larsson to explore the full range of melody and speed. We start at Gilmour, go via Vai and end up at Malmsteen.


The last two vocal songs on the album call for a harder edge and Thomas Eriksson steps up to the microphone and joins Larsson for these. 'I'll Turn Over' has a huge riff that would've been at home on Vai's 'Flexible' or on 'Eat 'Em And Smile' while 'The Neighbour' has Larsson dipping that whammy bar until the strings stick to the pickups in another Vai invention. 'Candy' wraps up the album and is an amalgam of avant-garde jazz-rock fused with frantic heavy rock - a supercharged Al Di Meola jamming with Colosseum II.


So, for the guitarists amongst you who love rip-roaring guitar playing and would also love to hear smooth sophisticated songs that never once mention vikings, this just might be for you.