Unlike many great contemporary singer/songwriter, Sweden’s Alice Boman isn’t a storyteller. Her lyrics are direct and don’t leave much room for interpretations. “It is what it is. I think it’s difficult to describe and explain things. I like to let the music speak for itself”, she modestly told in an interview. Skisser, her quietly brilliant debut EP was filled with raw, sketchy drafts – evident by the title which translates to ‘sketches’– that sounded timeless and completely out of context and place. But her fragile, almost ghostly timbre resonated with vulnerability and honesty in a way that was not only disarmingly beautiful, but rare and exceptional. She could capture weighty and complex emotions of unrequired love and other forms of love-related heartache with only a few, fairly explicit words often filled with regret and longing; a sense of melancholic sadness poured over each note and syllable by a gentle creature that seems to have loved and lost more than most people in a lifetime.
Less than a year later, Boman follows up Skisser with the aptly titled EP, EPII. Two of the tracks were recorded around the same time as Skisser, while the rest were recorded in November with Tom Malmros from Malmö’s indie rock band This Is Head. Since the process of writing and recording in a studio environment didn’t come natural for Boman, she and Malmros packed a van with instruments and recording equipment and embracing solitude in a cabine in Grönteboda where the first drafts of the rest of the four songs were recorded.
Not as lighly dressed, but the songs on EPII are just as tender and beautiful as on Skisser. As expected, the white noise of hisses and pops are gone, and Boman branches out by adding subtle, delicate layers of horns, guitars and bass that brings richness and clarity without barely sacrificing any of the intimacy that made Skisser such a tender, yet heart-ripping experience. This is perhaps most evident on “Be Mine”, on where Boman’s child-like voice is carried on a bed of faint, distant horns, marking perhaps the most beautiful moment on the EP. The horns return with even more force on closer “All Eyes On You”; an open-hearted post-breakup song that tackles emotions not easily admitted; “You look so good when you entered the room, I swear all eyes are on you. / It’s been so long, but something’s never change. / I still feel the same.” And when she later sings; “If you want me, I am yours”, she barely manage to utter these confessing words before beautiful, swelling horns swallows every last bit of her trembling voice.
At this point I’m not sure which EP I love more. I acknowledge EPII as a more fully formed effort with overall better songwriting, but the uniqueness and peculiarities of Skisser is not easily repeated. Perhaps nothing on here is as eye-tearing as “Skiss 2” or “Waiting”, but a trio of songs comes pretty damn close. Next to “Be Mine”, album-opener “What”, with its Angelo Badalamenti-akin minor-chords, and the chapel-like organs of “Over” reveal some of Boman’s most memorable melodies. Especially the latter – previously available on the vinyl edition of Skisser – is an unbelievably catchy little tune that is the closest a pop song Boman has written so far. But there are also songs like “Lead Me” that marks a shift in methods by – for the first time – letting an acoustic guitar accompany Boman’s soft hums. It’s a nice little tune, but it also reveals that she sounds more at home on a piano or organ led composition.
Last year, I saw Alice Boman at Hemma Hos Festival in Malmö. It was a remarkable performance; the crowd sat down on the floor with their eyes closed and took in every syllable Boman poured on them. When listening to Boman, I always seem to feel that life slows down for a moment, as if hypnotized by this angelic, otherworldly creature that possess the power to strengthen whatever heartrending emotion one might feel, while simultaneously being wholly comforting. I’m fairly sure that most people at the gig felt something similar. And this is the power of her songs; with small gestures she can make you feel a part of something esoteric, to the point of sounding almost spiritual. Without question, this is only the beginning of something big.