Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Artist profile - Abalone Dots (Sweden)

In 2012, Västervik trio Abalone Dots will become the latest country act to try to qualify to the Eurovision Song Contest from Sweden's Melodifestivalen. Groups like Calaisa and Cookies 'N' Beans could only place 5th in their semi-finals, while in 2011 Pernilla Andersson dropped out in the second chance round. Can Abalone Dots be the first to make it to the Swedish final, or even further?

The three members of Abalone Dots are Rebecka Hjukström, Sophia Hogman and Louise Holmer. A fourth member, Elin Mörk, left the group in 2010. An abalone dot is, so I learned today, a little spot made of mother of pearl that is placed on guitar or banjo necks. There you go, who said the internet wasn't educational?

Among others, the group has collaborated with Marit Bergman, Kristofer Åström and Al Perkins, and have released four albums. Softgrass Music and Avalanche Music were independently published, but two albums have followed for Sony BMG, both of which charted in the Top 10 in Sweden. From A Safe Distance came out in 2007, followed by Traveler in 2008, the latter of which won them a Swedish Grammis for Best Folk Music.

They describe their style of music with their own term, 'softgrass', which personally think is doing themselves a disservice, as that makes it sound rather bland and un-edgy. On the contrary, there's something very authentic about their output, with expert picking and folk and bluegrass sounds adding to the Nashville vibe of their country, reminiscent of acts like SHeDAISY or even Alison Krauss, with more than a little taste of the alt-country of Kasey Chambers. The fact that the biography on their website mentions the fact that Hjukström plays the dobro in its first line is telling, and very encouraging.

The group is now reportedly working on a third album and, in a slight change of direction, some of the tracks will be recorded in Swedish, and it is one of these that has been submitted for Melodifestivalen 2012. Abalone Dots will take part in the first semi-final in Växjö on 4th February with the song 'På väg'.

Watch the video for their single 'Solo' below, and if you like that, you can check out their 2008 album Traveler on Spotify.

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