Album Review of

Written by Joe Ross
January 24, 2022 - 11:13am EST
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I’m a dedicated fan of the three decades old Swedish folk-rock band, Hoven Droven, since first hearing them about 1998 on the Northside record label’s Nordic Sampler albums. I had lost touch of them but am glad to hear they’re still together and carrying the tradition of Swedish folk music with their own contemporary, rocking and raucous interpretive twists.  Recorded during the pandemic of 2020, Trad is a long-awaited (about ten years actually) addition to their catalog of exuberant Horslips-ian folk-rock/world fusion music. And much like the Scottish band Wolfstone, Hoven Droven blends traditional themes with more contemporary rock instrumentation and songwriting. 

The hearty diversity and healthy warmth of Hoven Droven’s music combines energetic traditional styles with a fair amount of electricity. Together since their first album in 1994, Pedro Blom (bass), Jens Comén (saxophones), Björn Höglund (drums, percussion), Bo Lundberg (guitars) and Kjell-Erik Eriksson (fiddle) are joined by five other stellar musicians: Janne Strömstedt (harmonium), Adrian Jones (fiddle), Peter Roos (fiddle), Katarina Bergner-Åhlen (cello) and Johan Arveli (guitars, various noises).         

Hoven Droven’s tracks intersperse their bright, breezy arrangements of a traditional Swedish march and two polskas (“Evertsberg,”  “Isak-Anders,” “Stugun”) with some modern compositions, most penned by fiddler Eriksson. We hear memorable instrumentals longing for a better life (“Amerikalinien”), conveying some of their witty side (“Sprackarull'n”), nostalgically remembering a bygone day (“Jensine”), tingling from the first rays of summer’s sun (“Vårruset”), getting into a disco groove (“Fela Inferno”), paying tribute to an ancient tribe in Jåmtland (“Maraakéspolskan”) and closing with the upward shirping of the curlew (“Spoven”).  Sax-player Jens Comén wrote “Polska från Hallonbergen,” an enchanting, jazzy piece that captures a more meditative musical mood during the course of its sonic journey.

On Trad, Hoven Droven keeps the spirit flowing freely as their compelling melodies mix elements of folklore, mysticism and contemporary references. The result is a very solid piece of folk-rock with intensity, drive and dynamics that never lose sight of their heritage and work’s roots and origins. (Joe Ross, Roots Music Report)