Release Date: Mar 10, 2017
Record label: City Slang
Genre(s): Electronic, Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Electro-Acoustic, Indipop
In a generation of growingly blurred lines between musical styles and influences, sir Was feels like a form of natural evolution, his music deeply informed by the past but remaining effortlessly modern. While so many new singer-songwriters seem to be sonically influenced by hip-hop, Gothenburg-born globetrotter Joel Wästberg, the man behind the moniker, skews the typical hi-hats and 808s for deep, heavy beats that are as much Portishead as they are GZA or Dilla. In doing so, he crafts moments of deep self-exploration and rich sonic outputs on his debut album, Digging a Tunnel.
Considering Digging a Tunnel's persistently chilled vibe, it's somewhat surprising to read sir Was (aka Joel Wästberg) describe it as an "existential dread-filled debut. " That surprise is validated to a degree by the album's opener, "In the Midst. " The Curtis Mayfield sensibility of the snappy percussion and super-smooth bassline are matched by the relaxed flow of Wästberg's rap.
sir Was -- Gotherburg's Joel Wästberg -- started out as a saxophonist listening to Charlie Parker and John Coltrane, and the freedom which Coltrane in particular embodied goes a long way to explaining the non-conformist styles of Wästerberg's debut album. 'Digging A Tunnel' is an album that won't stay still, won't conform, and which certainly won't sound like anything else out there right now. Opener 'In The Midst Of A Life' embodies a soulfulness that sounds a lot like Money Mark at his most lucid, while 'A Minor Life' has a vocal that sounds like an unearthed Brian Wilson vocal reel set to crisp, shimmering electronics -- and a set of bagpipes.