Alexander Rybak – No Boundaries
Source: music.server.sk 26. 10. 2010
Found and translated by Danka Čolláková.
Probably the sweetest Norwegian on the globe is back. We met him in May 2009 when he won Eurosong and in the history of the competition he enrolled with a record number of points. At that time, however, he had consecutive appearances in theatrical performances in Fiddler on the Roof, Operahouse in Oslo, and the Norwegian received the highest theater award. Such a big prize, at such a young age? No wonder. Alex grew up in a family of musicians – his mother played the violin, and the father is a pianist (sic)* and after the family moved from Belarus to Norway, young Alex Rybak started the music fully.
Perhaps Rybak would be still a local star, if not Eurosong. But his “Fairy tale” changed his life in a real fairy tale. Dozens of concerts, many enthusiastic fans, great sale of his album, which was distributed to 25 countries (a pity that it did not find the way to us), and this spring his debut brought him the “Norwegian Grammy” in the category Artist of the Year. At the end of August Rybak presented home in Norway, his second album, which should confirm his qualities and the fact that everything that has happened after for Eurosong, was not only a coincidence washed by the competition.
After a series of his music fairytales, Rybak comes with a virtually no boundaries album. He is already far from the fearful and shy boy, who enjoys slow songs, because in them he can hide behind his feelings. Those ultimately did the most damage. On his debut plate there were too much of them and although his thundering voice sounds perfect in them, listeners expected something else. Fortunately, I am pleased to note that Rybak comes in his “two” with much more dynamic and more mature material, which not only confirmed his star status, but mainly confirms his talent, professionalism and the fact that this boy might not benefit from his sweet face, which at least for some time the whole world succumbed, but that he can sell himself as a singer, musician, composer, producer and arranger.
Probably with a sign of his second album, Rybak comes with really no-boundaries album. As some of the songs have a “geographic” character, I thought it was a reference to this fact. Immediately after the first hearing it was clear that in this case it means more boundlessness of musical genres, as Rybak presents really many of them on his second album. And fortunately, dare I say that from eleven cases the boy slashed only twice, or more precisely, two songs on this CD are useless, but I would not dare to say, that it is just cotton. Rybak´s second one is very powerful, very emotional and very good album.
At the beginning, the singer launches a dose of waltz-style rhythms and song First Kiss becomes more serious excavation of pleasant surprise and maybe a little confusing, but nevertheless very successfully leads the listener to the next song. Very, very good start. Europe’s Skies is the second single from Rybak´s second one and it had its premiere on 13th October. Readers of musicserver.sk were among the first hundred who could see it exclusively. This song is a confession to the countries that Alex loves and its foundations arose at Crimea. There is even a Russian version. It’s a very good tip for a single, because what the listener’s catchy ear concerns, this is a clear favorite and it is a song that has the closest yet to the greatest Rybak´s hit Fairytale. If not those below-average female vocals, we could talk about top 3 best songs on the album.
However, it is wonder how a musician can slide from the heights of the great hit to the bottom of slushy ditch. The third song on the album is the song I’m In Love, which is actually a cover version, from which Rybak, as an arranger of the whole his album, tried to make a great dance hit. Unfortunately, it was of very abortive German dance refrain from the end of the eighties, or kitschy style ‘disco polo’ – our northern neighbors would be able to tell about it. This is simply wasted chance. This song should appear on the enlarged version of the album in the bonus section, or even better as the last B-side single from the plate. It is the first of three songs on which Rybak did not participate as an author and also the first song in which Rybak did not use his beloved violin.
Probably no harm to clarify that Rybak´s guides in the infinite path are three violinists and vocalists Moa Meinich, Maria Slyngstad and Katherine Hvinden Hals and Norwegian singer devoted a song to each of them. Moa enjoys song Oah, which also became the first official single and it is accompanied with nice and funny video clip from school benches. Little unpleasant surprise (but one can get used to it) is fantastic vocal onset and subsequent transformation of the song to song with a lot of clearly country elements, what is quite shocking, because after acoustically perfect chorus there comes American cotton and this is precisely the moment when the listener begins to wonder if the young Norwegian did not apply too many ingredients into his new album.. We are not even in the middle, but now I can say that he did not.
After that, Rybak tries to stabilize. Although to the fifth position he set the letter he had received from a fan, and he let the little Norwegian girl read it and even so tricky, that although it is fifth track, it starts at the end of previous song and ends at the relative beginning of the next song, but after that comes series from another genre yet.
With songs 5000 letters, Dare I Say and that further one Rybak pleases those, who are used to his slow songs from his previous album, where there were really plenty of them and prevailed other creations.
In this case, Rybak in fact changed the style; he is much more dynamic and tries to balance fast and slow songs. The series of three slow songs comes after panoply of fast songs and I have a feeling that it is eagerly awaited.
The song 5000 letters is a beautiful slow song, in which Rybak´s phenomenal voice sounds perfectly and it is perfect song, which I would play as a lullaby, and I mean it sincerely and in good. In the same vein there is the song Dare I Say, in which the perfect listening experience spoils only girls-vocals who neither solo nor jointly are good enough to assist to Rybak´s voice. The young singer must realize, that the three blond girls, although they are cute, they can play violin, they can even sing, but their voices are not stronger than of crowing hens, are not necessary for him.
Trinity of slow songs concludes perhaps the strongest, the best and just TOP song of the album. I confess that when I first heard Suomi, I shivered down my back and completely out of everything I remembered Tom Cruise, but his daughter is still called Suri. When listening to text I realized that Rybak does not pay tribute to any woman, but to the country he loves and I suppose the Finns, whom this song is devoted, will love the boy forever. Suomi is a beautiful ballad, which slow part passes into a dramatic chorus, which is arranged as Dieter Bohlen did it in 1986, but it does not hinder, because I feel like it was the intention. If you listen to the parts around the chorus, it is clear to you, that Rybak would easily manage to arrange it as a “non-roundabout” chorus. And it is exactly not a “roundabout”- It is more the way of expression of the artist and his expression of ravine. Suomi is definitely my favorite.
And there is still not the end of genres, because Rybak in the next song Why Not Me? shows himself as a rocker, or more punker, who seems to get along with those raving artists, as the band The Offspring and many others. Guitars, one rhythm and a lot of fuss. If nothing else, it’s certainly cute. Moreover, rock simply suits to this “Norwegian shepherd”. I do not understand only the final applause, which is a kind of bridge to the next song. It’s an instrumental song Barndance and it’s actually an instrumental country, which I would definitely not miss on Rybak´s album.
The end of the album is romantic and sweet. To the song Disney Girls the singer borrowed motives from Disney fairytales, to which he stuck on the music and created almost fairytale-single Disney Girls, which closes the album.
And we have come to the end of the analysis of the new album of Alexander Rybak. The boy has really matured through the year, he has organized in his head, what he wants to do and he tries to transform it into songs. It depends only on him and on the skills of his management, how they manage to push him forward, how they manage to sell him. Because this boy has a potential to become a star and his new album is a clear evidence of it. To make this work, however, it could not be such a chaos around him – I do not understand by now, why his album is issued by another publisher in some countries than in other countries, and definitely not, why our market behaves so skeptical to the winners of Eurosong, and in fact they are not distributed for us. Rybak is a unique appearance, who without doubt will enter the group of such stars as ABBA or Celine Dion, who shone on the festival and who are stars by now. Alex is not that one-year-star, who when he is replaced by some German-girl next year, must necessarily die.
If you want to make sure about it, you do not need hunt for foreign music stores. I found one in Slovakia and the album is offered in a relatively decent price and with a surprisingly short time of delivery. You can find the album cheaper abroad on the net, but you have to count the more expensive postage. Otherwise, I thank to that Slovak market and I want to believe, that it is the first sign, that when Rybak starts the tour to his new album next year, he will stop on his way, for example from Poland where he has become a real star, also in Slovakia.
Label: Universal Music, 2010
01. FIRST KISS
02. EUROPE SKIES
03. IM IN LOVE
05. KAJA’S LETTER
06. 5000 LETTERS
07. DARE I SAY
09. WHY NOT ME?
11. DISNEY GIRLS
* = In reality his mother is the pianist and his father is the violinist.