Ida Sand has always been good for a surprise or two. When she presented her ACT debut "Meet Me Around Midnight" in 2007 at the age of 29, after studying at the University of Gothenburg's conservatory and then learning the ropes in the Stockholm jazz scene, it sounded so different than one would have expected from a Swedish vocalist: not an ethereal, "Nordic" pop-jazz, but pure soul, fueled by her dramatic timbre. Gospel and soul music greats like Nina Simone, Etta James and Aretha Franklin, Sam Cooke, Donny Hathaway and Stevie Wonder had been Sand's early influences, and Sand has repeatedly reworked songs from these role models on her three ACT albums "into sparkling gems, with her dark, power-velvet voice," as the Financial Times so aptly put it. The press and the public both agreed that in Ida Sand they had heard a new "great white soul voice".
Sand had already included an interpretation of the Neil Young classic "Heart of Gold" on her album "True Love", however that Sand would now dedicate the entire "Young At Heart" album to the Canadian folk-rocker and singer-songwriter legend was entirely unexpected.
“They often say that the mentality of Sweden and Canada are quite similar to each other. Our countries have the same kind of climate and not seldom Swedish and Canadian culture have been described as ”melancholic”. Neil Young is Canadian and has been one of the greatest, most productive, influential lyricists and musicians of our time. He has enriched the music world by putting words and melodies to the human and existential questions that we all share. To me, that has been the traction of this project. To capture the melancholy, which actually is a strong parameter of my DNA too.”
In her own way she combed through Neil Young's opulent oeuvre, so characterized by style breaches and experiments as it is: "It is the lyrics I pay most attention to, then the feel and the energy that a song exudes. If it resonates with something in me, I sit down at the piano. I never filter out the chords of the original, because I don't want to adulterate my first impression. I try to improvise and sing it in my key, and then I just let it grow from there."
Sand mastered the challenge with seasoned support. Her mentor Nils Landgren again took on the producer role for "Young At Heart", and also added his distinctive soul trombone and unmistakable voice to the equation. Ida Sand's husband Ola Gustafsson, who was already right at the heart of her "True Love" album, acts as a kind of Neil Young alter ego on the guitars, leading the excellent band, which is made up of Jesper Nordenström on keyboards and organ, drummer Christer Jansson and e.s.t. bassist Dan Berglund. Tenor saxophonist Per "Texas" Johansson, renowned for his soul sound and Sven Lindvall on the e-bass joined the party as guests, along with famous Swedish Rock singer Bo Sundström and background vocalists.
“It has been such a great experience for me to dive into the music of Neil Young. I’m Swedish and I’ve done my best to keep the essence of the music intact, but with a new and personal twist.” Sand can rest assured that she has succeeded, be it on classics like "Cinnamon Girl", "Harvest Moon" or "Helpless", on intimate ballads like "Birds", tempo-groove numbers like "Sea Of Madness", folk protest songs like "War Of Man" or on lavish rock anthems like "Ohio".
Welcome to the vibrant, powerful, epic world of Neil Young!