Orupeansongs (Atlantic Records)

By David DewBerry

Tom "Orup" Eriksson has blended pop and soul to come up with his first English language album. This keyboard magician is Sweden's most famous solo singer. Now 30 years of age, this is his third album to date. What was most unusual about Orup is that he originally elected to record in Swedish, unlike his predecessors ABBA and Roxette. His English compositions are devoid of a characteristic Swedish accent. He could have come from Los Angeles from the vocal stylings in evidence on this disc.

In response to this observation he said, "My fans have come to expect a certain style from my records; I didn't want to do what was expected of me. It's no fun doing the same thing over and over again, and if you can't have fun doing it, what's the point of making music?" Therefore he recorded this album in English.

A very satirical piece, "It's a Wonderful World" got me with its surprise sentiment; not your ordinary sloshy album cut, but rather, a piece with a sensitive and amusing hook that opens this disc. While this white performer has a soul way about his performance style, he doesn't fall into the "rap trap" that many white performers affect to say "I'm black hip." That sort of thing is demeaning; Orup stays away from that side of the soul scene.

This disc is very well recorded and mixed. All of the pieces were written by Orup. This disc was released in Europe this past spring to rave reviews. I echo that sentiment. Orup is a real professional music maker, and that is most evident from this work. This is the kind of music to listen to in your favorite easy chair, with the lights down low and your best white wine. This is music for adults!

With the thirty-and-over crowd now the largest market to target in any business venture, Orup has smartly lost his rock/punk roots in favor of a more soul-flavored pop sound. Of his sudden success in 1989 he said, "My life changed overnight. I am glad it happened to me at 28 rather than at 18. I would not have been able to deal with it so young."

If you enjoy the likes of Bette Midler or Harry Connick Jr., I think you'll also enjoy the music of Orup. There is a real depth to the emotion in his pieces. One in particular is "I Should Be Happy Instead," which chronicles a lost love affair that he wanted to get out of, and yet he feels remorse. This pull-and-tug of emotions is heard in all nine compositions on this album. Most of it has an "up" feeling that contrasts with the work of people like the late, great Roy Orbison who revelled in the darker moments of life.

It is quite a feat to be a generally positive performer without sounding like a Pollyanna, but Orup pulls it off seamlessly.