May 23, 2024

Ebba Bergkvist & The Flat Tire Band is a Swedish blues rock band who freely moves between heavy guitar riffs, raw garage rock and heartbreaking blues. With her powerful voice, Ebba Bergkvist blends a 70’s sound with contemporary vibes, the band clearly coming from the same “Swedish School of Melodic Retro-Rock” that has produced the likes of The Riven, Heavy Feather, Children of the Sun, Nephila and Siena Root – all great bands, and fans of these are well advised to have a listen to these guys! 

The band consists of the Swedish guitarist, singer and the Junior Blues Prize of 2023 winner Ebba Bergkvist, bassist Björn Björnehult Korning, drummer Adam Randolph and Finnish guitarist Jonas Skeppar.

The band!

Four Wings is the second studio album by the band, due out on 31 May. Following their critically acclaimed debut Spilt Milk from 2020, the band returns with ten new tracks where heavy guitar riffs, raw garage rock, and soulful blues blend with powerful vocals and a 7’0s flare. While embracing a modern approach to production, the sound is firmly rooted in influences from artists as diverse as Rival Sons, Led Zeppelin, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Blues Pills and Lucifer. The outcome is a diverse and dynamic album full of energy and emotion. 

What started as a solo project at a music school in Northern Sweden, 2017, grew into their first recorded output, the EP Alright in 2019, which after moving back to the hometown of Stockholm was followed up by the acclaimed debut album Spilt Milk (2020). This got some good critical press, such as “…the unfettered, and emotive playing, and Bergkvist’s excellent vocals make this album an impressive calling card.”

During the covid 19-years the band released a few follow-up singles including the song “Patience” released on the International Women’s Day 2021 featuring six other female rock singers. 2023 heralded a number of live shows around Sweden during the recording of this new album.

Ebba Bergkvist & The Flat Tire Band on their new album: It all began when, in the state between wakefulness and sleep, I saw a white seagull with four wings flying over a beautiful valley. I woke up, wrote down what I had seen, and began formulating what would become the concept of this album. “If I were a bird, I wouldn’t have two wings, I would have four” – it represents an arrogance, an unreasonable ambition. That’s how the album begins, to then bring you back down to earth, present the downsides, and ultimately let you accept your fate. After three years of reformulations, restructuring, and arrangement difficulties, our second album is finally ready for the world, and we are incredibly proud!

Four Wings is produced and recorded by Ebba Bergkvist in Silence Studio in Koppom as well as Helgen Studio, Stockholm. All artwork for the album as well as its singles are hand drawn by Ebba. Erik Petersson, who previously worked with bands such as Siena Root and Heavy Feather mixed the album in No Regrets Fonogram Studio – and that’s a BIG clue and pointer as to the quality of this recording! Fredrik Stålne mastered it. Four Wings is released by The Sign Records on turquoise vinyl with gatefold cover.

**** 

We kick off with the title track, a nicely dirty bluesy chord-line keeping me entertained straight away. Ebba puts a marker down with some strong vocals that remind me of so many great singers….but I have to say the light-bulb moment comes around three and a half minutes in, with what I can only describe as an absolutely stonking solo from guitarist Jonas! Wonderful stuff, leaving me excited for what’s to come.

The Pack is an example of a track that transcends the ages, drenched in the 60’s/70’s but still sounding so fresh. It’s perhaps not quite commanding as the opener but still redeemed by some fiery guitar work, I’m seriously, seriously impressed by this guy! Northeast Passage continues in this same vein, quite heavy at times but always soulfully melodic, and a hint of Pat Benatar about Ebba’s delivery. Yet more scorching blues guitar to round it off.

Vice Versa swagers in on the tails of a so juicy piece of drumming, backed up by a taut bassline and followed by a nicely crisp chord-line. Ebba sounds so powerful on this one, a touch of Ellen Foley about her. Good one. Seasick shows a mastery of slide-blues in its timeless arrangement – soaked in the American Deep South, you can almost taste the hot Southern sun on this one. Again, you can really sense that shared style of fellow bands like Heavy Feather.

In contrast, Backslide is a gentle Country ballad, largely just the duo of Ebba’s sweet voice and Jonas’ acoustic work. Understated rhythms are added later as the track builds softly. Comparisons with Linda Ronstadt are valid, her voice is that good. Black Horses follows, another sparse arrangement with a modern country-blues vibe. This feels different, a seven-minute slow-burner that gradually builds….and builds, still finding time for some shimmering guitar work from the afore-mentioned genius, with a fascinating sustained background echo. Ebba is on top of her game here, soaring above the brooding maelstrom that is the rest of the band.

Maverick comes in with a distinctly Doors-like sound. This band do excel with a laid-back, understated yet powerful style to their compositions – all blues-based but pushing boundaries in lots of ways, Ebba here sounding as impassioned as Maria McKee of Lone Justice fame. And this analogy of modern Blues is an accurate reflection. Maverick is only four and a half minutes long but is such a strong, brooding track – excellent stuff!

Treachery continues this insidious style of a simple, hypnotic guitar line plus rhythm forming the bedrock of the song, above which Ebba vocally swoops and soars, supported by the guitar work both developing and bursting out into a full-on duel. I’m fascinated to ponder what this lot would sound like live, I can imagine a veritable powerhouse of a show! The set closes with Eastern Prairies, and it encapsulates the band’s blend of Heavy Feather and Lone Justice, such a strong melody, such a strong pairing of voice and guitar. Another almost bar-room blues number, masterfully executed

A strange but rather wonderful album, this – not as “full-on heavy” as the PR material suggests, majoring more on a contemporary yet retro blues-rock sound, aided by some great arrangements, the whole band are on top of their game but I must single out Jonas Skeppar, a fantastic find of a guitarist who sounds absolutely soaked in the rich and melodic musical tradition that so Swedish bands just seem to be born with. Definitely well worth a listen to!