John Doe's beguiling pedal-steel player, Maggie Bjorklund | Bleader

John Doe's beguiling pedal-steel player, Maggie Bjorklund



Maggie Bjorklund
  • Maggie Bjorklund
In this week's paper I recommended John Doe's concert at the Old Town School of Folk Music on Saturday night (and Matthew Hale Clark of White/Light interviewed him for Artist on Artist). Though Danish pedal-steel guitarist Maggie Bjorklund doesn't play on his fine new album, Keeper (Yep Roc), she'll be in his touring band. I hadn't heard of her till Bloodshot released her record Coming Home earlier this year, but it's a terrific piece of work. Bjorklund has played with a number of Danish artists I've likewise never heard of—including the Darleens, Lennart Ginman, and Nils Skousen—and somehow has also developed ties with the Seattle music scene, recording with folks like Mark Pickerel and Christy McWilson.

Several Seattle musicians returned the favor and sang on her album, including Jon Auer, Rachel Flotard, and Mark Lanegan. It was cut in Tucson, and most of the heavy lifting was done by bassist Joey Burns and drummer John Convertino (known collectively as Calexico, of course). Unsurprisingly, there's a strong southwestern feel to the music, most of which embraces a beautifully washed-out cosmic twang. Based on these songs, Bjorklund is a superior songwriter than the Calexico brain trust, and the vocal cameos by McWilson, Flotard, Auer, and Lanegan enhance the album without turning it into an erratic collection hijacked by its revolving cast. Below you can listen to one of the moodier pieces, which features a lovely duet between Bjorklund and Lanegan.

Maggie Bjorklund, "Intertwined"

Today's playlist:

Evinha, Evinha (Odeon, Brazil)
Steve Cardenas, West of Middle (Sunnyside)
Mike James Kirkland, Hang On in There (Luv N’ Haight)
King Sunny Ade, Bábá mo Túndé (Mesa/IndigeDisc)
Count Basie & His Orchestra, On My Way and Shoutin' Again (Verve)