Fränder is an acoustic family band from Sweden and Estonia, who play traditionally-inspired songs in a modern context. Formed in 2015, they released their first album (Fränder) in 2019. That album introduced the world to a band whose musical gaze was fixed on the rich cultural history and folklore of their homeland, but with feet firmly planted in the present. Released in late 2023, Fränder II, is the next logical step in their mission.
Picking up where their debut album left off, Fränder II sees the band in wonderful form. While they cover familiar ground with their folk-inspired melodies and lyrical themes, the band has created a mature, confident, and complex work. Original band members Gabbi Dluzewski (Swedish låtmandola, percussion and vocals), Daniel Dluzewski (double bass and vocals), Natasja Dluzewska (vocals and fiddle), and Säde Tatar (flute, bagpipe, Jew’s harp and vocals) take the listener on a stunning journey, replete with brilliant arrangements and masterful performances. Additionally, the percussion work of members Björn Tollin, Andreas Berglund, and Valter Kinbom, takes this project to the next level, driving the tunes and making this album rock.
As evidence, one need look no further than the album’s leadoff track, “Evigt regn” (Eternal Rain). Compelling and powerful, the song comes in with strength and drama, painting a dystopian view of a world where nature is stripped bare. A piece in several movements, it keeps the listener’s attention with its excitement and variety.
Another highlight is the track “Tid att komma hem” (Time to Come Home), a heavy song with a memorable main riff, featuring Gabbi Dluzewski’s close-miked låtmandola, and wife Säde Tatar’s earthy and soulful flute. Tatar flexes her woodwind muscle here, giving the best rock flute performance this side of Ian Anderson. The enchanting motifs are full of instrumental counter-melodies. Mention must be made of how Natasja Dluzewska’s flowing fiddle work and lead vocal cuts through it all with poignant beauty.
This is an album with many layers and a lot of depth. The songs deal with subjects as diverse as the global environmental crisis, elusive personal connections in dreams, traditional Estonian prayer, the tale of a local Viking king, and allegories of personal strength and growth.
Produced by Gabbi and Daniel Dluzewski, together with Daniel Bergstrand, Fränder II is a very strong album and is incredibly well-recorded and produced.
Fränder is the real deal, and this album is the complete package of composition, arrangement, production, and performance. To miss out on hearing Fränder II would be to do yourself a grave disservice. No matter your preferred genre, it is the kind of music that feeds the senses and helps to complete the soul.
SPILL ALBUM REVIEW: FRÄNDER – FRÄNDER II