For band leader Gabi Frödén it all started when she joined the church choir in her native Norrkoping in Sweden. And from the sound of what is essentially Foreign Slippers’ official debut (there has been a few EP’s and a demo version of this record), Frödén has maintained the pure tones she honed back in Norrkoping. Foreign Slippers are now a group based in the UK, though Frödén remains the beating heart of the new collective.
This is a beautifully and meticulously arranged set of songs, constructing melancholic progressions to house Frödén’s glacial yet unguarded vocal. The singer is unafraid to bare all her inner thoughts atop the layered cast of instrumentation. There is an acoustic foundation to much of Farewell to the Old Ghosts, though the keyboards, pianos, live and electronic rhythms and a long cast of supporting sounds continually colour the compositions. It means that songs like It All Starts Now can rise from a single guitar to a stirring celebration of harmonies, strings and claps within just a few moments.
Yet it is tracks like Two People in You that hit harder, purely because they are starker, Frödén’s vocal aching so hard the band daren’t start warming up the atmosphere until the final crescendo.
There are a few moments that feel slightly too cosy. The mid-paced canter of Is That You, for one, verges on girl band crooning, all wrapped up a little too perfectly for my liking.
Frödén says of the album title, “It’s called that because, at the same time that something awful, or difficult or sad, has been going on, there’s also a feeling that something better is coming, because we’re saying farewell to something that has passed.” It’s the perfect description; the record’s inner strength indeed stems from an ability to convey nostalgia and that of a new awakening within a single song. A neat trick if ever I heard one.