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Little Tall Island (Sweden?) – The Mourning After (from the album We are all stars)

It’s a good job I like mystery tours. I’ve never come across anything quite as cryptic as this.

The PR I received from a usually ultra reliable source was couched in intrigue. The PR had been turned over, presumably at the request of the artist, to the artist him or herself. Or to themselves. Who knows? I’m even guessing the artist(s) is/are Swedish, simply on account of the label being based there.

I ventured to the PR man that it might be Orville Peck in yet another disguise. The reply was “I’m not saying”. At least if it was Peck he’d be in good company with his masks. We all wear them now. He needs to change his image again.

Rather than beat about the bush I’ll print the PR release verbatim.

“The label wanted me to say something again. So here it goes. One last time.

Then leave me alone…I’m not the artist.

I started a journey in 1986. It continued with lonesome nights creating things I never thought would see the light of day. A car crash ended my dreams and set fire to my hopes of turning a dark April night into a bath of sunlight. Basking in my talent. But as they say over here. Don’t take water over your head. It’s a deadly sin, right…

Pride. And throw in a bit of big-budget greed while you’re at it. Green acres. Blue skies when the gluttony of life sets in. Killing hopes, dreams, and my friend. Man, I miss him. This record deserves a thank you to so many people. And what you are about to hear have never been done before. So many people from older generations and new generations, colliding in a sweet mix of stories they wanted to tell, and my story, rolled into one. I could not have done this without you.

Here’s the tracklist. It also includes me telling you the story of how it all went down. You might recognise some of these people. They are all representatives of their generation.”

Hm. A car crash. Plenty of musicians have died in them, including Eddie Cochrane, Duane Allman (and Berry Oakley of the Allman Brothers a year later), Harry Chapin, two members of T-Rex (Marc Bolan and  Steve Currie, separately), and all of Viola Beach (in Sweden). But none can be behind this unless they’re communicating from beyond the grave, so that’s not really a clue.

There is a website for Little Tall Island but it is equally as baffling, its search engine link labelled ‘Little Tall Island 1987’ so it is possible this collection, or some of it, is indeed almost 35 years old although most of the tracks sound much newer than that. The link itself leads to a one-page website containing the playlist against a flickering background of what could be analogue signals from somewhere in Outer Space that’s behind Planet Earth in its development. The plot thickens.

The remark “I’m not the artist” leads me to speculate that Little Tall Island is actually just the curator of this collection rather than a writer of any of it.

I could bore you with this all night so I’ll cut to the chase. ‘We are all stars’ comes across as a sort of superior concept album, its tracks interspersed, as the narrator says, with the ‘story’ of how it happened in six parts, each one sounding as if it were recorded in a condemned cell just before dawn.

There is absolutely no standardisation in the tracks; each is from a different ‘genre’ and there are many of them, including very heavy rock, rap, and some variety of electronic gospel. Even something that sounds like ‘kulning,’ the rural Swedish vocal skill by which cows are called in from the fields in the evening. Most of them ‘feature’ (very good) vocalists who, in most cases, I can’t find anywhere on the internet.

I feel like I’m missing a trick here, that I should have figured this tour de force  out by now but that hasn’t come to pass yet. So I’ll leave you with the sample track, which I chose randomly but which made the biggest impact on me, ‘The Mourning After’ featuring Anna Ohlsson and Emelie Ohlsson, who between them could be The Cranberries’ Dolores O’Riordan.

This album is worth checking out. A touch of class here.

I usually finish with ‘Find them on’: but I can’t, because you can’t! Let me know if you do!

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