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Sunday, May 29, 2011

Kristina Westin - In The Back Of My Mind

Kristina Westin - In The Back Of My Mind
2010, 7P Machine AB

Swedish vocalist Kristina Westin first rose to prominence as lead vocalist for The Valets, who took Popstad '98 by storm.  Later as an alt-country vocalist, Westin was a finalist in the Swedish Championship of Country Music, but Westin has found her home in pop music.  Westin is a big deal in Stockholm, with regional television appearances and in-demand gigs on a regular basis.  But Westin has set her sights westward with the release of her newest CD, In The Back of My Mind.  With a voice that's been described as a cross between Norah Jones and Dolly Parton, Westin will grab your attention quickly, but it is the subtlety and depth of her songwriting that will make you want to stick around.

Westin opens with "I'm At War", a wonderfully honest and straight-forward song of anger.  Westin avoids the aggression and histrionics that often pass for dramatic embellishment with an honest statement of intent that is compelling and refreshing in a brilliant pop song that is the perfect introduction.  "What A Night" is a solid pop number that finds Westin dancing through the upper notes in a fluttery, breathy voice that is atypically lovely, and contrasts with the solid alto she delivers in mid-range.  The song is a bit repetitive, with a percussively melodic chorus that works well as a counter to the circular lyrics.  "Fever" is a pure pop/country number about desire that could cross over easily to the US country charts.

"Stay Another Year" is a beautiful, dreamy pop number with cascading vocal harmonies that are reminiscent of Fleetwood Mac.  Westin's unaffected voice is beyond beauty at times, particularly so on this tune.  "Up In The Air" is built on a rock-solid melody, contrasting this against the uncertainty of returning to a relationship that's failed before.  The narrator has set herself straight, but doubts if her former partner has.  Westin reaches resolution with "I'm Walking Away", a wonderfully catchy tune that's a potential hit in waiting.  The narrator calls out a lover and kicks him to the curb for his behaviors.  Once again, Westin takes the refreshing route of telling the story and dealing honestly with emotions as a storyteller rather than trading in the currency of vitriol.  Westin's lyrics are cogent, and are married to an arrangement, and particularly a chorus, you simply cannot shake. 

"Where Do I Go" finds Westin exploring her next steps in a relationship; knowing better but wanting to trust him again.  The chorus is a bit repetitive but otherwise solid.  "Reasons" finds Westin trying to understand all that has happened in a melancholy ballad that alternates between fatalism and hope.  The singer/songwriter vibe here is impeccable.  "Please Get Away" finishes the cycle, so to speak, allowing Westin to move on to a new phase.  That phase starts with the delicious pure pop of "Pretty Girls".  Westin acquires a sultriness to her voice born of confidence, and a Holly Hunter sibilant S that's appealing.  In The Back Of My Mind closes with the "Untitled", a simple, gorgeous love ballad that's stripped bare, leaving just guitar, Westins voice and a subtle musical fringe that simply underscore the beauty of the melody.

Kristina Westin displays the subtlety and grace of a pure songwriter on In The Back Of My Mind, combined with class and presence of a professional performer.  In understated and personal fashion, Westin wraps listeners in tales of love lost, love found, and the myriad emotions that fill the spaces in between.  In The Back Of My Mind is the sort of album you live with for a while; it certainly qualifies as a Wildy’s World Desert Island DiscThis is an instant classic.

Rating: 5 Stars (Out of 5)

Learn more about Kristina Westin at or   In The Back Of My Mind is available digitally from and iTunes.

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