The Brandqvist/Bengmark Quartet make music that bridges jazz with traditional Swedish-folk, displaying similar features to the melodic textures and harmonic forms of the Hawaiian-folk/jazz blends of Charmaine Clamor on BBQ’s latest release, Terms Of Life. The reason for why this is could be because, just like Charmaine Clamor’s songs are inspired by the music created by the sweet sounds of nature, so too are BBQ’s songs whose music is inspired by the lush echoes resonating from the seashore of Sweden’s West Coast where the band resides.
The Brandqvist/Bengmark Quartet consists of lead vocalist Karin Bengmark, pianist Hakan Brandqvist, bassist Frederik Nilsson, and drummer Emil Brandqvist with special guest musicians on woodwind and string instruments. BBQ encapsulates the beauty of nature in their music, and the curse of human flaws to ruin happiness in their lyrical themes. BBQ’s lyrics center on the human need to make amends for their wrongs, while yearning for a piece of serenity in their lives. BBQ bond melodic scores with words that seek peace and a renewal of life like in "Wouldn’t It Be Fair," written by Hakan Brandqvist. The song is sung lovingly by Bengmark as she reflects, "I wish you could be mine again, it would be fine / You know you have the secret key, which goes to my heart / I hope it could be good again, just like it should / You know you have the simple word, there is to be said / Must life together end with those hurtful words of mine? / Can’t you listen to my true and honest prayer? / Is our love forever gone? / Is there nothing to be done? / Can’t you let it be forgotten and tell me that you care? / Oh, wouldn’t it be fair?"
BBQ caress the lyrics with showers of orchestral tones moving along channels with soft jazz inclines and shallow layers. The soft flutters of the flute whistling across "Life’s About Longing" cradles the song in warmth, as the towering lifts in the piano keys etched into "Oh Please Bring Water" create peaks and troughs along the harmonic forms. The songs have the pleasing esthetics of Ann Murray and the orchestral wings of Sarah Brightman. There is a church-like reverence in BBQ’s songs which make them feel sacred like the pacifying soundscapes of "In Your Eyes." The meandering piano keys of "The Wonder Lullaby" move in spontaneous patterns, which become more structured in "Love In Heart And Mind" as Bengmark’s vocals rise up like a woman on a mission. Much of the album is sloped in gently versed movements like "Birds Of Passage," "Our Beautiful Children," and the title track which rings with a bossa nova tingle. The orchestral flaps meld into the melodic fabric the way a bird’s nest becomes part of a tree branch. The songs mirror nature’s beauty from frame to frame.
BBQ’s latest release Terms Of Life bridges soft jazz and Swedish folk with hints of bossa nova and orchestral tones in the mix. The instruments meld into each other creating a shallow berth to hold up Bengmark’s vocals, which have the strength to be heard over sea cliffs. BBQ’s album puts one in a pacifying mood while hoisting the flag of Swedish-folk proudly.