|Mattias Nilsson (Photo: Anja Emzén)|
In fact, the opening track, "Folk Melody from Västmanland" (incidentally, the Swedish national anthem, also known as "Du Gamla, Du Fria"), is a beautiful traditional tune played with delicacy by Nilsson, who approaches "Serenade" and the title track, "Dreams of Belonging" in the same wistful, introspective sort of way. The latter is one of the three Nilsson originals on the album; the other two are "Hymn to Love" and "Spirea," two very personal pieces taken at a slow pace that are good examples of Nilsson's talent as a composer of semi-classical jazz. "At Frösö Church" is an equally relaxed take on "Vid Frösö Kyrka," a melody by the noted Swedish composer Wilhelm Peterson-Berger, and "Södermalm" comes from the pen of another important 20th-century composer, Thore Swanerud. Nilsson looks back even further on the album closer, "Day by Day," an old hymn originally titled "Blott en Dag" and written by the revered 19th-century songwriter Oscar Ahnfelt. Though the influence of Johansson and his epoch-making LP Jazz på Svenska is undeniable, in his interview with the Jan Lundgren fan club website, Nilsson says that he's tried to put his own personal stamp on the music: "The album centers around the kind of traditional Swedish music I've always been drawn to, and although I use plenty of jazz techniques, I hope I've been able to find my own 'voice' in the material." This he definitely does achieve on his version of John Hartford's country tune "Gentle on My Mind" (a major hit for both Glen Campbell and Dean Martin in the '60s, but hardly a common choice for jazz recordings), possibly the most light-hearted track on the album, and generally throughout the whole CD. Overall, this is a very satisfying solo piano effort that is well worth playing more than once, since it gets better and better with each listen.