Review by Teresa Hopkins
Artist: THE SUMMIT
Album: “Higher Ground”
Label: Pride & Joy Music
Release Date: September 4, 2015
01. Turn It Off
03. One Way Highway
04. Circle The Sun
05. The Calling
06. Only Human
07. Water To Wine
08. Not My Country
09. The Higher Ground
10. All Die Young
11. The Way Down (bonus track)
For those of us who spent a good chunk of our childhoods growing up in the ’70s, one of the aspects that we still cherish most is the music from that time. Fresh from the experimental era that dawned in the decade prior, those who were creating the music made it even richer with meaningful songwriting to match the power of what they were doing instrumentally.
As eras come and go and ebb and flow again, I’ve been thrilled with the Classic Rock Revival currently alive and well. Evoking a feeling of the past and the sounds of favorite artists we remember fondly, while giving it personal touches and the advantages of modern engineering, this unofficial but undeniable movement in music is not mere rehash of days long past; rather, it is a refreshing, exciting standout among the stale, mechanical, overproduced fluff that somehow has overtaken the monopoly of airwaves.
One of the greatest representations of this return to the real is THE SUMMIT. Comprised of established songwriters and long-time friends Mats Karlsson (220 VOLT), Björn Höglund (EASY ACTION, HOVEN DROVEN), Michael Klemmé (MARMALADE SOULS, A BAND CALLED STANLEY) and rock/jazz master Lars Ericsson, this band from Östersund, Sweden has created an album well-worth raving about.
Höglund, a man with many irons in the fire (writing, producing, working with several musical artists, and championing for true culture in Sweden are but a few activities that keep this drummer constantly busy), gathered his dream team of band members with the mission of putting together a kick-ass album in a relatively short amount of time. With consideration and admiration for the bands they grew up listening to in the ’70s, as well as how quickly their respective albums were made, the guys were stoked. They began writing in January of 2012, taking eleven of those sixteen songs into the studio in April of that year. By autumn’s turn, they had completed “Higher Ground”.
Evident only seconds into “Higher Ground” are the power, the energy, the talent, and the top production that went into it. And it just gets better as it goes along. This is pure, unmitigated,untainted Rock & Roll the way it was meant to be played!! Instant good mood! Reminiscent of epic artists like Toto, Peter Frampton, The Babys, Styx, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Queen, Triumph, and Foreigner with a little of The Tubes, The Byrds, and The Beatles, the album has all the elements I still adore about music from that era, but kicks it up a notch. Or several. They don’t seem to intentionally be going retro so much as to be coming from a very real, honest place of creativity, expression, and sheer fun. What’s especially appealing and impressive about THE SUMMIT is how well they accomplish all this. It sounds effortless; having played together as kids and remaining friends, they have brought their talents and passion to the table, but left the egos behind for a unified vision that is heard loud and clear.
Michael’s voice is pure and strong, and the vocal harmonies perfect for such a rich, full sound backing them up. Björn hits hard, heavy, and all over the place, and he’s as steady and spot-on as it gets. His drums really sparkle. Lars brings a great jazzy feel to his bass playing and holds down the bottom end like the seasoned pro he truly is. Mats’ guitar dazzles in all the right places, pulling it all together with variety, finesse, and emotion. The piano, keyboards, and tambourine add that little extra pinch of spice when and where needed to make it just right. Each member knows his place and stands strong in it, sparing nothing but never out of place or out of balance.
The songwriting is every bit as powerful as the music. Meaningful lyrics cause the listener to think beyond him or herself and consider a bigger perspective. They proclaim, but they don’t preach. Some of the subject matter isn’t all roses and sunshine, but the music and the super melodies are so uplifting, I found myself in a better mood once the album was over, and more inspired, to boot. I especially like ‘Circle The Sun’, ‘Only Human’ and ‘Not My Country’. From the opening riff of ‘Turn It Off’ to the last power chord on ‘All Die Young’ (‘The Way Down’ is a bonus track that unfortunately wasn’t available to me at the time of review), my audio experience was akin to Dorothy Gale’s awakening in the Land of Oz: from black, white, and shades of gray to glorious, undiluted color.
Do I rave on too much? The joy, the integrity, and the vision of what THE SUMMIT brought individually and created together are obvious here, as is why they did it: not to impress or garner accolades, but for the sheer love of music. That’s what makes this album so good, and that’s why music should be created in the first place.
I sincerely hope that this very talented group of gentlemen will consider joining forces again in the future to make more magic. In the meantime, I continue to enjoy “Higher Ground” and recommend that you do the same.
Well done, guys! Cheers!
Mats Karlsson – Vocals, Guitars
Michael Klemmé – Vocals, Guitars
Lars Ericsson – Bass Guitar
Björn Höglund – Drums
“Higher Ground” is available for purchase at the various Amazon sites, as well as iTunes: