It would be hard to imagine a record less topical or more comforting than A Dream of Lasting Peace, the seventh full length album by Swedish blues rockers Siena Root. The music faithfully adheres to the tone they’ve kept up since they hit the Swedish rock scene in the late ‘90s, and it was nostalgic even then. On the drum kit, Love Forsberg wallops the toms and cymbals so hard he might revive John Bonham. The guitar, the bass, and the vocals all contribute to the attitude: a reborn Led Zeppelin come to kick ass and chew bubblegum, and they’re all out of bubblegum. And, of course, there’s the organist, Erik Petersson, whose ample talent is showcased throughout the album, particularly on “Growing Underground.” His syncopated, pure-badass intro made me a convert to the church of the rock organ—an instrument that, until I heard Petersson play it, I’ve always tolerated at best.
These virtuosos know what they like to play, and play it a lot; the songs don’t display a wide variety in tone or texture. There’s riff-heavy rock ‘n’ roll at a medium tempo on “Tales of Independence,” which eerily echoes Led Zeppelin’s “Moby Dick.” There’s riff-heavy rock ‘n’ roll set to a slow swing beat on “The Piper Won’t Let You Stay,” which also features a “Hey Joe”-esque intro and a guitar part that is sure to inspire some air-guitar soloing. There’s riff-heavy rock ‘n’ roll with a jazz tinge on “Imaginarium.” This is not music with anything to add to the discourse about the current state of the world. The album’s highest aspiration is to rock, and that it does. Depending on your perspective, that’s either a reprehensible shirking of art’s moral duty or a welcome reprieve from an onslaught of social commentary.
Not that Siena Root doesn’t have an agenda. The old-fangledness of their sound is clearly dear to them. Siena Root have been around for two decades, and they pride themselves on committing to a vintage sound before everyone else was doing it. In other words, they owned the past before the future stole it. In any case, they’re surely the only band still lugging around a full size multi-track tape recorder. That protohipsterness is both irritating—because protohipsters are still hipsters—and refreshing, because it’s a relief to hear someone call back the past so damn well.
But what is past is prologue. A Dream of Lasting Peace makes a strong statement on where rock as a genre heads from here, if only by screaming from the rooftops that it ain’t dead.