Last updated July 13th 2020 "It's an album about longing to feel things for the first time again". photo: Johan Bergmark For his seventh record, Thomas Jonsson is going back to his roots. His last album - Transit, his third under his I'm Kingfisher moniker - met with some of the strongest reviews of his career and was featured on both NPR's All Songs Considered and KEXP's Song of the Day, but by 2016, he'd encountered a familiar foe - writer's block. "I couldn't really come up with anything new, and I didn't know where I was going or what to expect," he recalls. "And then, it just happened again, like it always does." This time, though, he used a different set of tools to break through the wall. Having nurtured his signature indie folk sound over the course of the first three I'm Kingfisher LPs, two records in particular inspired him to try his hand at something new. "When I first started out, in the early 2000s, I listened to a lot of country and Americana, but that kind of fell away," he remembers. "Recently, though, I'd been touring a little bit more with those kinds of artists, and then I fell in love with Courtney Marie Andrews'Honest Life and Dwight Yoakam's Second Hand Heart. They really hit a nerve, and I wanted to pursue that style for myself.” Not that it was all plain sailing; the first of the new tracks, 'Captain, I'm Going Blind', proved a tough nut to crack. Once Jonsson had it in the can, though, he spent much of 2018 compiling material for what would become The Past Has Begun. It's his most impressive, cohesive collection yet, thirteen quietly epic tracks that showcase his remarkable versatility as a songwriter. Recorded with long-time collaborator producer Carl Edlom in his Karlstad studio, the album features guest vocals from Amanda Werne of Slowgold as well as Vilma Flood, whilst Josh Gordon - best known for his extensive work with Damien Jurado - contributed guitar parts, mellotron and keyboard remotely from the U.S. The arrangements are sparse; acoustic guitar, piano and tastefully employed strings are the key components of a minimalist instrumental palette, whilst Jonsson's hushed, earthy vocals recall Nick Drake as well as his hero, M. Ward. The Americana influence he's spoken about is palpable - take the delicately broken 'The Biggest Blow', for instance, or the gentle country shuffle of 'Mess Minus Room' - but he's also found himself leaning more into the folk side of the indie folk he's known for, revisiting some of his earliest influences - like Lambchop's Nixon and Is a Woman. He nods to new ones, too, like the young Californian singer-songwriter Molly Tuttle. The folkier side of The Past Has Begun particularly emerges when Jonsson's experimenting with both dark storytelling ('Christ and the Woman Taken in Adultery') and softly dramatic duets ('The Plausible Impossible'). "It all felt like a natural development," he explains. "I didn't overthink it too much. I was taking a step back here, a step inwards there. I just try to find the core of the song, and then work from that. I think the difference this time was that I usually start by looking for a cool guitar sound. Instead, I was trying to find the vocal melodies first, and then a lot of the songs fell into place around them." Perhaps the key track, though, is the closer, 'Breakthrough at 42'. It's the one that ties The Past Has Begun together, dealing as it does with the record’s key themes - ageing, and the bittersweet nature of memory. "I knew I was going to go back to writing love songs, which I hadn't really done as I'm Kingfisher" he says, and he's delivered, with highlights on that front including 'Is That All You Got on Me' and 'And They Say You Can’t Love Two at Once'. "But the main thing, for me, is what the title of the album is referring to. It's about getting a little bit older and feeling like you haven't achieved everything you wanted, and yet you keep dreaming - even if those dreams aren't things that are likely to happen any more. That was really relieving to write about, because I build obstacles for myself by thinking too much, and music is usually the way I move past them." That's the record in a nutshell; romantic yet resigned, hopeful but drenched in melancholy. "I know that some parts of my life are done, and that the past has become an entity of its own. I find myself yearning for the feeling of being younger, and thinking everything was possible. Instead, I think you have to find the balance between wishing you'd done more, and being happy with what you’ve achieved." For Jonsson, the past has begun. Contact: johan@fadingtrailsrecs.com (label & press contact) info@thomasdenver.com