The upcoming album release from Minneapolis musician Sven-Erik Olsen, Sketchbook Traces, captures the Twin/Tone sound of bands like The Replacements with cerebral songwriting and a tuneful harmonic adventure.
Over the past 20 years, Sven-Erik Olsen has done it all - power pop, big band jazz, noise, bluegrass, musical theater - everything, that is, except strike out on his own: until now. His debut proper, Sketchbook Traces, arrives in September 2017 and is a distillation of his truly unique musical vision: endlessly melodic, harmonically inventive, tonally rich, rhythmically adventurous, lyrically caustic and cryptic; a distinctive synthesis of his myriad influences, from Bacharach to Dylan, from Prince to Elvis Costello.
Trained in classical violin from the age of 6, he was raised on a diet of his parents’ Carpenters, Bob Dylan and Bach LPs before discovering -- in 1987 -- two genre-defying albums that blew open the doors of his musical imagination: Sgt. Pepper and Sign ‘O’ the Times. Relocating to Minneapolis in the late 90s, Olsen began developing a distinctive sound, incorporating the open tunings of Sonic Youth and the jazz harmonies and angular rhythms of Burt Bacharach into what Twin Cities scribe Jim Walsh called “an adventurous melange of soft rock and hard jazz.” His band Tuesday’s Lifted released a pair of albums in the early 2000s, that garnered critical acclaim and established Olsen as a “promising and intriguing songwriter” (Gary Smith, Umbrella Music).
After recording several tracks with renowned engineer Bob Weston (Sebadoh, Shiner) in Chicago and Darren Jackson (Kid Dakota, The Hopefuls) in Minneapolis, another album, Echo Chamber, was released in 2009 by the short-lived but celebrated power pop outfit The Pundits. Olsen spent the next few years writing award-winning musical theatre work (Project 515, Best Music Score, Lavender, 2010), playing post-war country and blues with The Flying Shoes, and writing a new batch of material in his basement when he wasn’t tending to his growing family in Northeast Minneapolis.
Reconnecting with drummer Dan Greenwood in 2016 (formerly of Tuesday’s Lifted and Cloud Cult), and bassist Steve Amundsen (Tuesday’s Lifted, The Pundits), Olsen joined forces with engineers Ben Durrant (Andrew Bird, Dosh) and Zach Hollander (Cactus Blossoms, The Honeydogs) to create his first proper solo album, Sketchbook Traces. At last, Olsen has crafted an album that alludes to the music closest to his heart - the mid-60s pop of Brian Wilson and Ray Davies coupled with Blood on the Tracks-era Bob Dylan.
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