Chicago, the Mississippi Delta, Southwest Sweden? One of these things is not like the other. Hailing from a rural part of Scandinavian country, Daniel Norgren sings the blues of his own degree and own continent. Frankly, it’s a bit unfair to boil Norgren’s music down to one word, “blues” — it’s far more of a manifestation of his worldly surroundings. Like all good music, Norgren’s sounds like it could have been made in any part of the world at any given time, past, present, or future.
Wooh Dang, Daniel Norgren’s sixth record, feels different from its predecessors. It possesses all of the ingredients of his previous material, but there is a budding new energy within it. Certainly, some of that comes from the fact that it’s his first album to be globally distributed, which will undoubtedly bring him new listeners, but Wooh Dang sounds like a welcoming statement on its own terms.
The album opener, “Blue Sky Moon,” invokes all three of those words almost literally. Birds are chirping in the background as ambient whistles and droning noises pulse up until you can hear Norgren starting to warm up his voice with some light humming and guitar chords. You can start to make out the melody of the tune just as it fades out into the next track, “The Flow.” The six minutes of light piano, dusting drums, faint guitar, horns, and little else is just one of the highlights.
There is a tangible soul to Norgren’s music that is not only rare to find, but impossible to insert on purpose. It’s just there. If Wooh Dang sounds like it was recorded in an old rustic farmhouse in the Swedish woods, it’s because it was. Norgren and his bandmates, Anders Grahn, Erik Berntsson, and Andreas Filipsson, took up stead in a rickety home and recorded the collection of songs all to tape, using an old German piano that had been left to whatever spirits still reside there.
Norgren plays to huge crowds in his native country, and it seems that his number of fans in the States is growing exponentially after each live performance. Seemingly always the star of Pickathon and other festivals that lean toward music discovery, Norgren continues to “prove it” with Wooh Dang, whether it’s your intro his art or a much anticipated new gift.