Stockholm singer-songwriter Johannes Mayer has created one of the most captivating releases of 2012. Pale Morning Light is a 10-song journey through a narrative. On his previous albums, the vibe veered towards mainstream, but not this one. It seems he finally decided to let go and venture in a different direction this time around.

The first track, “Wandering Through An Empty Field” opens with piano and guitar picking. His voice breaks in, reminiscent of Coldplay’s Chris Martin, but more refined. His voice carries through the song with such confidence. He sings his stories as if they correspond to his life, but this may not always be the case. Mayer often writes of doubt, but that doesn’t mean he feels it in his world.

“No Easy Way Out,” “Keep Calm” and “Heavy Heart” are all brilliant in their own way. Anyone can claim songs are catchy, but to have each one stuck in your head before they’re even over is an accomplishment to say the least. The musical build up of tension in “Heavy Heart” is emotionally charged, but it ends calmly and quietly.

The fifth and sixth installments, “Forest Fire” and “Week 23,” are well placed. The album never has a dull moment, even with the relaxing lullaby of “Week 23.” Gentle guitar with soothing melodies creates a dream-like state. You get lost in the sound until “Pale Morning Light” brings you back to reality. His vocals aren’t as light and airy on this track, but it’s a welcome change.

To close the album, Mayer picks his guitar softly on “Everything In Its Place.” His uncertainty in love forces you to think of your own life story. Johannes’ narrative on Pale Morning Light seems so real, so familiar. Maybe masking your real life emotions can bring an even more important aspect to music. Being able to create such a powerful storyline with fans that know nothing of its origin is a difficult task for any musician. To do it beautifully is another task all on its own.

In A Word: Stunning

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