Alberta Cross’ third album is actually the first just by Petter Ericson Stakee. The Swedish Stakee met English bassist/original member Terry Wolfers in London and together, they moved to New York and released the first Alberta Cross record Broken Side of Time in 2009. Now living in Brooklyn and working mostly solo, Stakee offers new version of an Alberta Cross album that ends up sounding remarkably timeworn.
Alberta Cross opens with a less-than-90-second intro called “You’ll Be Fine,” which sounds like what would happen if 21st century Cat Stevens sang “Trouble” in a falsetto. The “whoa oh ohs” of subsequent track and most recent single “The Ghost of Santa Fe” are reminiscent of The Head And The Heart’s first album—of journeys both fueled and flat-tired by fear—but with a Born To Run fervor marked by the saxophone and keys. And with a vocal timbre reminiscent of Ben Bridwell of Band of Horses, Stakee sings his personal admissions, tales, and yearnings and over a smattering of horns and strings and swelling choruses. It’s a safe pairing that has lead these bands and more to commercially successful careers.
While Stakee has acknowledged the themes of information overload that pervade Alberta Cross, it’s ironic how well his music fits in our contemporary industry in which songs are sold for sync placement in other media. In fact, Stakee’s pensive, emotional songs sit snugly with lite-drama television series like Sons of Anarchy and Californication, as well as video games like NFL Madden 12. It’s not necessarily a bad thing (as that’s what pays these days), but without any other musical or lyrical distinction, Alberta Cross’ music works best paired with something else.