There’s a lot to love about Swedish singer/songwriter Calle Ameln: his authenticity, his infectious melodies, and his whiskey soaked voice, but most of all it’s just his passion for the music. The guy sounds like he has lived what he writes, and he’s got a lot of great stories. Sometimes you just know that someone is doing what he was born to do. With a background from hard-rock and metal, he is trying to add some attitude to the otherwise fairly clean cut genre of country-rock. This puts Calle squarely in the middle of authentic, thick and raw Rock, Alt-Country and Americana music.
Rather than a cool Swede, on the title track of his EP, “Salty Dog”, Calle Ameln seems more like some grizzled, peyote addled, desert rat that emerged from a heat mirage on a lonely stretch of highway. Ameln is a talented songwriter, lyrically taking up themes and characters that complement his hard-life-lived sound. His raspy, throaty vocals are all gravel and grit, while the music is old school, no bells and whistles: mostly contemplative and haunting mid-tempo ballads woven amidst a couple edgier songs. No matter the style, this is refreshing, invigorating stuff. Musically the songs have a ruggedness honed into a powerful simplicity that doesn’t lapse into cliché.
Calle Ameln’s brand of roots rock and Alt-Country/Americana music is infectious right from the opening song, “Is There a Chance”. Ameln is an absolutely brilliant storyteller whose lyrics and rough voice take you effortlessly through landscapes of heartbreak, regret and love. “I Don’t Feel Down”, feels good. Far from all the clinical clean productions, we have here an honest, heartfelt song, sung with all the honesty and frankness of someone who knows what he’s talking about.
Some “traditional” singer-songwriters are rocking-chair, chord-change strapped and others can’t help but launching themselves into melody and groove. Calle Ameln is not tethered in the least. This is special stuff that exists in the realm that has no label. Never lazy, always urgent, sometimes straight and at others ironical, as on “I Built a Bar”.
If you enjoy a touch of country mixed with a touch of rock and you have a free spirit, this EP is truly for you. Calle Ameln’s gifts of lyric, imagery and irony are right on cue all throughout “Salty Dog”. On most of Ameln’s recordings, the sound is spare to make room for his weighty lyrics. He has something to say, and he wants you to hear it clearly. His chugging brand of roots music, at its best, frames his words and world-weary voice so perfectly as to sound effortless, as if he had just coined all the chords on the spot.
On “Salty Dog”, Calle Ameln proves to be an absolute master at unveiling complex truths with deceptively simple technique and a rigorous lack of pretense. If there was any justice in the music industry, Calle Ameln would become a household name in his genre.