Sweden's The Grand Opening is essentially a solo project of multi-instrumentalist John Roger Olsson, based in Stockholm. This is his fourth album which he produced, recorded and wrote himself.
Olsson also sings and plays most of the instruments although he does concede the need for some guest musicians notably Leon Svensson on cello, and Anna Ödlung on backing vocals.
The reflective songs (all sung in English) are addressed to another person but who this 'you' might be is rarely made clear. Perhaps they are about the people in the old family portraits that can be seen in the video for Towards Your Final Rest and on the cover art where the central figure has faded to become a ghostly presence.
The subject of the opening track, Blacker Than Blue, is as specific as it gets, a story song about a child travelling across the ocean, alone for the first time, to a new city where everything is strange and "nothing can be as it used to be".
The album's title is taken from a line in Free in which Olsson makes freedom sound more of a burden than a liberation, as if one false step could leave you lost in a black void forever.
The implicit suggestion throughout is that the weight of one's personal history is impossible to entirely shake off. In Over The Fences, for example, Olsson sings "your mother was a misery, your father was a mystery, black is the colour spent haunting your past".
Life as a journey is a key motif for the album and one which is mostly traversed in slow motion in a melancholy state of mind. We follow a road where we may be led off track by a False Light or, in Target, where we struggle to keep the mind focused.
It is muted, melodic and meticulously layered but stays resolutely locked in cruise control when an occasional change up to a higher gear would have been welcome.