Tobias Fröberg

Tobias Fröberg Biography

In another era, he would’ve changed his name and you’d be reading about singer-songwriter Toby Sweden. There would be sensitive shirtless photographs of a young man with an acoustic guitar sitting by a fire and AM Radio would be playing large portions of this album in regular rotation. But, alas, this is 2006, and come September the Los Angeles based Cheap Lullaby Records (The BellRays, Sylvie Lewis, The Bloody Lovelies) will issue “Somewhere in the City,” an album so good it will be known almost exclusively to the cognoscenti unless we can get the word out or entice SAAB to do the right thing. (Track #1 on this album, “When the Night Turns Cold” is being used overseas in the Pan-European TV ad for Panasonic Lumix cameras, so things are on the right track.) Froberg grew up on Gotland, Sweden’s largest island, in the middle of the Baltic Sea. A desirable summer retreat, Gotland is home to musicians, filmmakers, actors, artists and fulltime dreamers. You can hear its dramatic vistas recreated in Froberg’s music, its sense of timelessness, its unadulterated, natural beauty, its Swedish Swedishness. Froberg was raised in this rare atmosphere by a father who played jazz bass and a mother who cared for children. He always loved and played music, but during school focused on soccer, attending camps for the best players in the country.

U pon exiting education, he still made music wait. Froberg earned a better living from writing for books, magazines and newspapers, working for two years as a columnist for Scandinavia’s largest newspaper, Aftonbladet. He told friends that should he interview Ingmar Bergman and Neil Young his work in magazines would be done and he would then and only then focus solely on music. Fate works in strange and mysterious ways, especially in Sweden. Bergman agreed to a series of rare interviews with Froberg for a book about the filmmaker’s life on Gotland. The day of the final interview, Froberg went to Stockholm to see Neil Young perform, spying two living legends on the same day. Froberg didn’t interview Neil Young, but close enough for horseshoes was close enough for Froberg. He packed his studio equipment and in the summer of 2003 went to his parents’ summer cottage to begin his new life. One of Froberg’s best friends, producer Linus Larsson (Nicolai Dunger, Mercury Rev, Ed Harcourt) asked to play drums and failed to alert his parents that he would be on sabbatical with young Tobias. The police were called to find the young truant. No one was harmed. In the end, one of the songs from the sessions ended up on Froberg’s first album, “Elisabeth Wherever She Is,” which was nominated for a 2004 Swedish Indie Grammy. Froberg has made it look easy. He toured with friends and fellow deserving talents Jose Gonzalez, Teitur, who plays piano and background vocals on “For Elisabeth Wherever You Are”, and Ane Brun, who duets on “Love and Misery,” which can also be found on Brun’s aptly-titled platinum selling “Duets” album. Larsson co-produced and co-played the instruments throughout “Somewhere in the City.”

W hile “sounds like Nick Drake” has come to represent just about anyone who doesn’t sound like Megadeth. it wouldn’t be unusual if you heard the stirrings of Paul Simon, Tim Hardin, Nina Simone or even Ron Sexsmith in the works of Tobias Froberg. Former Creation Records, now Poptones music guru Alan McGee dubbed Tobias in a moment of rare understatement, “the next Scandinavian Superstar.” W hether it’s the haunting duet recorded in Froberg’s apartment, “Love and Misery” with Ane Brun, where the gentlest of notes and the simplest of phrases join together to cast a mesmerizing, forlorn spell or the Simon & Garfunkel harmony-led melody of “God’s Highway,” it’s no wonder the critical accolades keep streaming in. The album is strewn with treasures, some obvious, some hidden. There’s the shimmering slapback vocal delay of “The Features of a Human Face,” the way Froberg’s voice shakes as he sings “I know the words you want to hear / But I don’t know what to say.” There’s the unapologetic romanticism of “Oh My Love (Here She Comes Again)” accompanied by Froberg’s mini-moog and the disarming optimism of “Thank You.” It’s an album of great contemplation. Listen and hear if you agree. For more information please contact Matthew Libman at Cheap Lullaby Records.

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