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Laurel Music

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An outlet for the heartfelt classicist folk-pop songs of Tobias Isaksson, Laurel Music came about after the songwriter sent a demo to eminent Swedish indie Labrador Records. Won over by his sweet and sensitive compositions but leery of his "less than beautiful" singing voice, the label heads suggested that Isaksson collaborate with vocalist Malin Dahlberg of Douglas Heart. At the time the two were living in separate cities (Dahlberg lived in Umeå, Isaksson in Göteborg), but they exchanged letters and mixtapes, bonding over a shared love of Ida, the Smiths, Tim Hardin, and the Walker Brothers, among various other folk and indie notables. The pair recorded several songs for a Labrador compilation before expanding to a three-piece with the addition of Douglas Heart drummer Max Sjöholm. Following a couple of singles, This Night and the Next appeared in 2004, an easygoing batch of soft, distinctly country-inflected pop tunes recorded by the trio with some additional instrumental input from friends (in its live incarnation, the band has appeared with anywhere between two and six people). They recorded a second album the following summer, inspired by '80s and '90s guitar pop and given the working title Cycles, but it remained unreleased for several years. In the meantime, Dahlberg and Sjöholm continued as members of Douglas Heart, while Isaksson finally got his chance to sing, fronting the retro-styled pop collective Irene, and Dahlberg started the solo project We Are Soldiers We Have Guns. ~ K. Ross Hoffman

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