Siena Root is a four-piece Rock and Roll band from Stockholm, Sweden who originally formed in 1997. The lineup today is made up of vocalist and organist, Zubaida Solid, percussionist Love Forsberg, bassist Sam Riffer, and guitarist Johan Borgstrom. The band is releasing their new album titled Revelation on February 24th of 2023 through their new label home, Atomic Fire Records.
It is following up to their 2020 record, The Secret of Our Time, which featured two vocalists, Lisa Lystam along with Zubaida, who moved to Stockholm in 2015. Already being a fan of Siena Root, she met Love through different Musicians as she would attend shows in the local Blues scene. She was also in a Frank Zappa cover band, that Love was blown away at when he first heard them.
Zubaida was brought in as a guest on Siena Root, alongside one of her best friends, Lisa Lystom, who was also a guest and had been singing in Siena Root for a period of time. Soon it progressed to Zubaida taking over on vocals and also keys as she wanted to be in a band full-time.
The name “Revelation” comes from the journey of the album being a “Musical revelation” for the band. They rehearsed a couple of songs before going into the woods to record. The album was tracked in two different studios. One being in the countryside at Silence Studio in Koppom, Sweden, and the other being in the city at Root Rock Studios in Stockholm. The album was initially planned to be completely acoustic. However, through the recording process, it evolved into something more “revelating”, hence the name of the record, Revelation.
On the eve of the release date for Revelation, Siena Root are holding a special listening party on February 23rd in Stockholm. They are showing a special poetic documentary without any dialogue titled, Wheels of Revelation, showcasing their journey recording the album.
Love describes the album as capturing a lot of the theme of moving from the city to the countryside, “This also is shown in the Music that the countryside, it’s more acoustic, and the city, it’s more electric or electrified in the expression of the Music. The documentary shows the band how we start out in a fairly gloomy city side and end up in this very strange studio.”
There was a moment when the band was doing some takes in the region of Dalarna at a forest with a very clear blue body of water, sitting around by a fire playing Music. Zubaida recalls the experience, “We were sitting there during the night… Actually, one of the singles that we released is called Little Burden, I mean we had some prior ideas when it came to that song, but it actually started coming together really nicely, as I remember it, when we were sitting by that fire and playing. That that is something that’s recorded in this documentary, but I would say that’s a very– that song is one of the, for me, key songs of the album, at least.”
For the song Little Burden, the Music video was also filmed in Dalarna, close to where children’s author Astrid Lindgren was raised. The song is one of the more acoustic sounding songs on the album, with the softer side of Zubaida’s vocals, as the cello gives the song a fuller-encompassing sound, along with sporadic taps of the drums and a light tambourine in the background.
Zubaida shared more about the lyrical meaning of the song that she and Love wrote, “It’s a song that encompasses both you know the feeling of a very small burden being extremely heavy, but combined with the thought of this this idea that burdens are just that, they’re just burdens. They’re like, they can easily be brushed off, or you know, for somebody else, it’s inconsequential what you feel as a burden, or how heavy it should be.”
The opening track of the album is titled Coincidence & Fate, it is also part of the beginning of the Wheels of Revelation documentary. The Music video was filmed in different locations during the Summer in Stockholm where the band rehearses, and some was filmed in Northern Sweden. The song begins with a few seconds of organs playing and rolls into the decades ago inspired, loose electric guitar riffs. Zubaida’s vocals are in harmony with the sound of the bass, as you hear Love’s light cymbals and snare throughout the song with spontaneous moments of the bass drum.
The song’s lyrical meaning is based upon Zubaida’s experience in March of 2020 during the beginning of the pandemic when she became really sick, “During that time, I couldn’t go in to get tested because I wasn’t sick enough, and we weren’t sure how contagious it was. I got really scared like because you saw people from all age groups dying, and you didn’t really know how severe is my sickness? In the beginning, it was a lot of talk about like pressure on your lungs and feeling like there was a steel wire. I got really scared one night and I started getting panic attacks and I felt my heart racing.
From that experience, as a grown person, you think a lot about Death in that scenario. I had so much time to ponder, am I ready to die? How do I feel about this? How do I combat something that I can’t even see? That was where I came up with the lyrics. I didn’t even know there was like this way of feeling. Like, am I really ready for this?”
Keeper of the Flame is the closing track on Revelation, and also their most recent single with some of the fullest and boldest guitar chords and melodies on the album. It starts out almost sounding like something you’d hear from a Gospel song with the organs and the emphasis on the softer vocals, until the song kicks in with the melodic electric guitars as Zubaida’s Soulful & Bluesy voice powerfully raises and captivates throughout the rest of the song. There are moments where the guitars are given the spotlight, almost teasing you with the way the twangy riffs start and stop, especially toward the end of the song.
The source of the inspiration for the song stems around heartbreak. Zubaida worked very hard on the lyrics. It came from having a relationship with a person who wouldn’t give the reciprocal dedication. “Over the years coming to terms with my place and that relationship, and what it turned me into and it’s basically that, a relationship with a guy who didn’t take any responsibility in the relationship really, but I was so in Love with him. I let myself be this person that was just there and not actually being present. It’s a tale as old as time I would say.”
When Zubaida came up with the song idea for the group, she had an idea in her head already for the chord progression, “I think that is like maybe one of the reasons why it’s so punishing because I wrote the lyrics together with the chords. That’s my process most of the time, when I write a song. Putting it through a Siena Root lens is always going to turn it into something even more. I think that’s Musically speaking, since the guys really could relate to the theme of the song, it was almost effortless to put it together. It’s one of the songs I think we got to work on pretty fast because it was pretty obvious what was supposed to happen.”
It is one of Love’s favorite songs on Revelation, calling it a great finale to the album. “I think it’s also a very interesting lyric and I can relate to a lot of stuff there, as well. It’s interesting how time makes you see things with new eyes. It was just the ending that we were really all thinking when somebody came up with the idea, but we needed a really strong ending to it as well. So, this song became something even more and we were all together on that. And I was like yeah, we should arrange that.”
The Music of Siena Root encompasses the energy and sounds of Nature, you can hear birds chirping, creeks, and water in many of their songs throughout their discography. Love shared what one of the main takeaways from Mother Nature is that they incorporate into their Music, “For us, growing up in Sweden, none of us are really spiritual or religious in a christian way. I think all of us can experience the mystique or spirituality when getting into Nature and getting connection to something more than just a screen and a subway or whatever. Being out in Nature and experiencing this whole thing that is so much bigger than any of us, this is a very strong feeling that we don’t get anywhere else.”
Zubaida absolutely agrees that throughout the Siena Roots Music history, there’s a lot of influences that make you feel like you’re very grounded, “you can have this environmental aspect to it, if it’s either the lyrics or the way that we produce the Music. It has to do with the fact that you know we talk about how we produce our records, or the way we choose to not have a digital way of doing it is kind of a statement. Throughout this record, there’s some recordings of birds or water and that kind of thing. And I think it’s as Love says, just being in Nature since we’re so globalized these days. We live in these big cities and Nature is being pushed out further away. It’s really refreshing to hear Music that wasn’t only composed in a small, small studio by one person writing everything, and doing it track-by-track.”
Towards the middle of the album, the vibe of the Music lightens up a little bit, where you hear more acoustic sounding, light listening style for Dusty Roads, Winter Solstice, and Dalecarlia Stroll, and Leaving The City. The band has done acoustic shows from time-to-time and the last two songs on their live album, Root Jam, are both acoustic. “For this one, it was natural that when we got into the woods, we thought, “yeah, let’s do this song with an acoustic sound to it.” It fits that way, that we’re moving from the city into the countryside, we’re going from an electric start into an acoustic middle part or ending.” Love elaborated about Revelation.
Dusty Roads is one of the songs that Love connects with the most on the album because it has so many different elements to it. “It has mellow parts, and it has stronger parts. It has some improvised things, and it has some really nice words and harmonies and melodies. It also was very fun the way it came to be. I think it was you and me Zubaida, jamming just drums and keys in the studio, and I was singing something and then you took over and just continued the thing.”