Rigmor Gustafsson Makes You Smile

She grew up in the middle of nowhere in the heart of Sweden, learned her craft in New York and now the singer is back with her sixth album on the Munich-based ACT Music label.

She is on a new path with “When You Make Me Smile”, since this is her first album with a full orchestra. The Dalasinfoniettan, a 30-piece under the direction of Jonas Nydesjö, is supporting her on most of the pieces. But actually really nothing more than supporting her – this is not a classic Big Band album, but more of a vocal album with orchestration. So many artists from Scandinavia are thought of as coming from some dark, melancholy, almost depressive background. But that’s not the case here.

And even though the album starts subdued with “Call Me Lonely”, there are a lot of joyful, easy and swinging pieces on offer. “Forget About the Moonlight” is a breezy cut showcasing Rigmor’s very natural, no frills approach to the lyrics, which are mostly her own.

She works with her regular band here: Jonas Östholm on piano, Martin Höper on bass and Jonas Holgersson on drums and has called for help on several tracks, like Magnus Lindgren on sax and flute (on the floating title track), or trombonist Karin Hammar.

And just when you thought  that this whole affair is slightly too much on the light side, she comes up with a veritable soul number like “I Get Along”. Her cover of the Marvin Hamlisch song “Nobody Does It Better” didn’t really work out for me, “Stay, Stay, Valentines Day” has some Natalie Cole moments, and “Finally Falling In Love” focuses again on some light Swing with a waltzy backdrop. “Woke Up On Sunday” could be one of Madeleine Peyroux’s songs, but here, Rigmor’s vocal falls a bit short.

And then there’s Eagle-Eye Cherry, Don Cherry’s son, who also grew up in Sweden. I almost forgot about him but he’s in great form on the lovely duet “Let It Go”. Welcome back!

 

And then there’s “Eagl

 

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