This Alberta Cross article was written by Paul Stimpson, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Gavin Wells
After many years of working as a duo, Petter Ericson Stakee has released the first Alberta Cross album to be recorded without Terry Wolfer’s input – rendering this largely a solo project.
The self-titled record, the band’s third overall, does feature some of Alberta Cross’s signature sounds, with vocalist Petter perhaps allowing himself to indulge a little more to create those desired intimate moments on the album.
The album begins with such a moment in ‘You’ll Be Fine’: a warm, acoustic track lasting just 90 seconds. Not your typical album opener, but it leads nicely into the highlight of the album ‘Ghosts Of Santa Fe’. The track’s uplifting melody and vibrant backing track give a strong platform to become a lead single, but it’s the addition of a brass section and a piano riff that completes this as a full package.
Ambient guitar riffs saunter through ‘Western State’. Similarly uplifting and strong melodically, Petter’s unique vocal timbre pair perfectly with the chorus’s glowing backing vocals.
‘Easy Street’ sees the tempo and mood drop dramatically. The brass section turns from bright and vibrant, to sad and melancholy. This is perhaps Petter’s element, and how he thrives inside it. His voice is perfect for the laid back, melancholic folk song – and his attention to detail with the background instrumentation is unflappable.
After such a strong start to an album, Alberta Cross disappointedly loses its way slightly in the middle section. Several sleepy folk rock ballads fill in the album, with ‘Isolation’ confusing the listener with a vibrant bass line and melancholic, sad vocals. ‘Heavy Words’ is an improvement but seems to lack the huge burst of melody in the chorus that the song built up to.
The experimental ‘Beneath My Love’ sees Alberta Cross try Radiohead circa ‘Kid A’, and it works tremendously.
‘Shadow of Mine’ and ‘Smoky Lane’ are both similar in their concepts, but the familiarity of the tracks does not grate on the listener as these acoustic ballads are blessed with a wonderful melody and piano riff.
The album is closed in the same way that it was opened, a soft acoustic ballad with Petter’s vocals bursting with soul and yearning. There is no need for clever instrumentation or structure when someone can carry a song purely on the emotion in their voice.
Alberta Cross is out now on Dine Alone Music