Backstrom - The Carousel - Stereo Stickman

Backstrom The Carousel


Having teased this project for a while now with singles that naturally soothe the soul, Backstrom finally launches the highly-anticipated album The Carousel, and it bursts into life with the brilliant Folk, Americana and Gospel flavours and soul of Train Wreck Coming.

Full band arrangements really bring these songs to life, everything from the choir of supporting vocalists to the horn sections, bass-lines and riffs helps light up the space, within which our lead singer guides us through a series of stories and ultimately promotes a sense of acceptance and optimism; in light of the central blues sentiments.

Arrangement matters, and we quickly shift into a sultry ballad vibe for Its Too Late. Fingerpicked acoustic guitar and that lower-toned voice deliver a Johnny Cash mood, which perfectly precedes the intrigue and imagery of the unforgettable single Animal.

“You’re the animal that you have always been.”

For the title-track, The Carousel presents a simple folk-shuffle of a groove, and some poignant yet relatable reflections on the passing of time. Here we realise the album’s intention, to inspire awareness of this ride we’re all a part of, and to cement the gypsy-folk style and substance of Backstrom in a brilliantly addictive, strangely comforting manner.

The Traveler follows, a fascinating theatrical piece, minimalist and intriguing for its meeting of bass notes and vocal melody, then near-euphoric for its rising energy and presence – despite the darkness and lostness of the topic. A definite favourite, but from a playlist that’s consistently rewarding when listened to in full.

The Carousel features a range of additional musicians, a fully loaded supporting soundtrack is clearly distinctive amidst this strong array of songs. The fullness of each track is fantastic, organic and powerful, reinforcing the theatrical, circus-like sentiments of The Carousel in a humble yet fitting way. The talent on show is unrivaled, the songs capture a level of magic that’s refreshing to immerse yourself within.

On the story-telling front, Ghost of a Town takes us way back in time, setting the scene with detailed lines and nostalgic instrumental prowess of strings and keys united on this meandering vocal journey. The spaces here, the pauses and the instrumental solos, help really create that scenic, all-encompassing other realm; purposeful escapism at its finest.

Doom and gloom subsides musically for the more hopeful tones and unity of Winter Moon. Times are hard regardless, but the value of being together shines beautifully in both lyric and lay-out. There’s an unexpected warmth and vulnerability to this one, a personal touch that’s well-placed at this late-stage in the album.

After this moment of mellow, the Folk-country stomp of The Journey hits with likable impact, the melody still reinforcing a sense of positivity and growth – an inspiring energy, optimism and colour inciting a sense of movement and motivation; another favourite for its sheer potential to uplift and impact listeners in a powerful way.

Wrapping things up is the sultry swagger and moody blues of Darkness, a new vocal leading but the very same poetic scenes and songwriting maintaining those essential threads. This one builds up like an immense piece of theatre of its own, a haunting and hypnotic final piece, which gathers momentum throughout but also marks a mighty curtain call regarding all that came before; stylistically and in topic.

Backstrom has mastered the moment with The Carousel. The album is everything its title and artwork imply and then some – a swirling chaos of contemplation, but rooted in professionalism, passion and musical appeal. It’s a festival compiled for your listening pleasure, and at the same time, it’s a much-needed dose of realism and possibility whenever dark times overwhelm.

Album out January 18th. Find Backstrom on YouTube & Instagram.

Rebecca Cullen

Founder & Editor

Founder, Editor, Musician & MA Songwriter

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