Trip-O-Meter: 3.5 out 5
If you've spent any time listening to my Glaze of Cathexis recordings, then you'll know that I have an affinity for old school country and folk that slips through the psychedelia every now and then. Lee Hazelwood first crossed my radar when I was a college DJ, and his late 60's and early 70's albums definitely caught my attention. This is the best of them. Let's face it - a cowboy in Sweden is pretty trippy, and this is just what Hazelwood did in pursuit of a Swedish independent filmmaker who churned out a film of the same name. The tracks here kind of, sort of fit into a country pop sound, but there is some strange gauze informing the music here that at least sounds influenced by the wacky tabacky. The string arrangements are sometimes a touch overwhelming, but the overall effect of this album is worth your attention.
Hazelwood's road worn voice definitely takes us into the sonic labyrinth of his mind on the first to tracks, "Cold Hard Times," and "The Night Before." The well-picked acoustic guitar is well balanced by the arrangements and result in some catchy tunes. "For a Day Like Today," "Vem Kan Selga," and "Leather and Lace" serve up some fine female voices filling in for Hazelwood's old collaborator Nancy Sinatra (think of the 60's classic "These Boots are Made For Walkin'"). "Leather and Lace" in particular presents us with a great haunting melody where the string arrangement works out quite well. You'll find the orchestral arrangements cheesing up the sound a bit on "Hey Cowboy" and "What's More I Don't Need Her." Fortunately, "no Train to Stockholm" and the phenomenal psychedelic Louis Lamour vibe of "Pray Them Bars Away" balance things out.
Whereas a lot of psychedelic bands switched gears to country rock during this time period, you'll find Lee Hazelwood attempting a strange fusion of the two. You'll likely require a touch of a yearning to traverse the New Mexican wilderness by peyote-fueled horse to really get into this one, but it strikes me as a very groovy sonic prospect, and it may do it for your ear as well.