Kaipa – Sommargryningsljus (Album Review)

Review of the new Kaipa album “Sommargryningsljus”

by Bob Keeley

Sommargryningsljus (which translates to Summer Dawn Light) is the 15th studio album from the Swedish band Kaipa. This is a concept album which traces a journey from dusk until dawn. The album is bookended with the short songs “Sommarskymningsljus” and “Sommargryningsljus” or “Summer Twilight Light” and “Summer Dawn Light.” These songs are actually one song with identical melodies but different words, the first ushering in the darkness and the second, reflecting on the light of a new day. These are the only songs on the album that are sung in Swedish. In between this pair of songs lie six other longer songs, sung in English, with strong melodies, fascinating instrumental development sections, and excellent musicianship.

“Seven Birds,” the first English track typifies much of the character of this album. The memorable and haunting vocal melody is presented by the two lead vocalists, Patrick Lundström and Aleena Gibson who trade lead vocals throughout the album. One of the strengths of this album is how the melodies are presented using multiple voices. Kaipa extend this song by developing the main melody rather than merely moving to a new section. The instrumental solos throughout the album are primarily (although not exclusively) ornamentations based on the melodies rather that improvisations on the chord progression. Clocking in at nearly ten minutes, “Seven Birds,” is a good example of what we see in other songs on Sommargryningsljus. There is a lot of time in this song spent reinforcing the main melody. The song also has a delightful “B-section” which is relatively brief, lasting only one minute, and serves more like a bridge would in a much shorter song. The lyrics describe a desire to be free of the things that trouble us as the writer sees a flock of birds soaring at dusk. It’s a great way to start the meat of the album.

Similarly, in “Like Thousand Dawns,” the sunset brings about “colors we’ve never seen” as the writer longs for dreams with images of soaring and wings. The music begins with a modal melody that hovers somewhere between major and minor before it evolves to a more traditional major scale and Gibson begins to sing of “songs of faith and hope.” As the song progresses the wistfulness of the lyrics and music of opening verse gives way to the urge to make music and “sounds that we’ve never heard.” In contrast to the previous song, “Like Thousand Dawns” shifts and changes sections and moods the way dreams often do. But they always come back to the initial melody. Both the dream and the music move from its opening pensive mood to a joyous conclusion. Throughout the album, Kaipa continues to find new ways to engage the listener with inventive solos and with guests on violin, saxophone and recorder. The sax solo at the end of “Like Thousand Dawns” is particularly well done.

Sommargryningsljus continues on in this vein with four other songs, all between about 10 and 16 minutes, that explore the inner life of the protagonists as they explore their dreams, including a somewhat frightening one of being “Chased by Wolves and Burned by the Sun” and another where the sound of a distant train evokes a dream of spiders. But dawn arrives “to open up a brand-new day” in the final English song, “Songs in Our Hands.”

Kaipa was first formed in 1974 by Hans Lundin but the band took a nearly 20-year break from 1980 until 2000. Lundin, the primary songwriter, is the only original member who remains, but since their hiatus Kaipa has been active with a fairly stable roster. On Sommargryningsljus the band works well as a unit, giving life to these often-complex arrangements and sprawling melodies. This is an album that might take a little while for listeners to appreciate but the time investment will be a well spent as the individual pieces of the album come together nicely as one begins to grasp the overarching themes. This is an album that rewards repeated listens.

Released on June 28th, 2024 on InsideOutMusic.

Sommargryningsljus is now available for order here:


Sommarskymningsljus 00:01:30
Seven Birds 00:09:50
Like Thousand Dawns 00:11:08
Revelationview 00:09:28
Chased by Wolves And Burned by The Sun 00:10:17
Spiderweb Train 00:15:29
Songs In Our Hands 00:13:00
Sommargryningsljus 00:03:58
Sommargryningsljus (Single Edit) 00:05:24

Kaipa are:

Hans Lundin – keyboards & vocals
Per Nilsson – electric & acoustic guitars
Jonas Reingold – bass
Darby Todd – drums
Patrik Lundström – vocals
Aleena Gibson – vocals

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