Here’s an interesting concept. Take a bunch of Europop songs of varying parentage and reinvent them with an intensity far divorced from the sparkled out of the skull mentality that made many of them a hit in the first place and you have “European Dreams” by Mark Northfield.
Mark Northfield is a serious musician and he demonstrates both skill and imagination in taking so many of these songs away from the eternal damnation of the dancefloor and allowing them to take up residence in a piano bar occupied by hipsters forever on the cusp of dawn’s early light.
His selection of songs is interesting in itself. Abba’s bleakest song, “The Day Before You Came”, is a conservative, and some might say obvious, choice that suits his style well yet he seems equally respectful of more trivial dancefloor fodder like “Saturday Night” or “Asereje”. This isn’t parody as much as a minor key relocation to the better part of town.
It would certainly be fair to regard this album as a low key affair as Mr Northfield is never one to kick the ball straight at you and, in his inspired choice to keep these songs on a musical path more classy than cabaret, he actually makes these songs seem like new friends rather than the unwanted party guests that the passing of time has made them.
Credit is also due to his fellow conspirators on the album with Ellen Jakubiel, in particular, adding a precise yet passionate quality to her contributions that complements the cultured approach that is the trademark of Mark Northfield.