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David Åhlén announces his new album Selah
Where can I go from your spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence?
In the video for David Åhlén’s single “We Sprout in Thy Soil” (released 2009 by Compunctio) it’s the 70s, and a people moves through the city. They have sideburns and megaphones. The sun streams and they clasp each other’s shoulders. “Jesus Is Lord,” the banners say, “Hallelujah,” Jesus Is Our Hope.” They are the Jesus people, walking toward Kungsträdgården, Stockholm. And above these flickering images hovers David’s voice. Now sheer as the thinnest light; now deep as a well. He has a voice that invokes immediate attention and “not a single second feels redundant,” PM Jönsson wrote in reference to the full-length album in the magazine Sonic and placed it on his best-of-year list. Many voices agreed, both in the Swedish and foreign press.
If I take the wings of the morning and settle at the farthest limits of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me
Four years later, David Åhlén releases a new album, Selah, on his own label, Mishkan. This past winter, the Åhlén family moved to Stenkumla parsonage on Gotland, where the album was recorded. If you listen carefully, you can hear the children and the ocean winds yanking at the old windows. But mostly, you can hear David’s unique voice and finger-picked guitar. At times sprinkled with music from Andreas Eklöf’s zither or American Timbre’s harp. Percussionist Peter Stolpestad plays minimally, charging every beat with presence. Several voices sing in the background and a few piano notes chime from Andreaz Hedén and Alma Hedlund Emilsson. Then they all take a backseat and it’s back to the Voice and the Guitar. The Voice—so fragile in falsetto, yet large enough to fill cathedrals.
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light around me become night,” even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is as bright as the day, for darkness is as light to you.
It’s been forty years since the sideburns and megaphones, but the same people still moves. David Åhlén is one of them. And the prayers which are his songs are still the same as then: About seeing heaven break forth. About lighting up this world with a different kind of light—Jesuselectricity.
/Nils Lundkvist, poet och editor for the Swedish culture magazine Cre