ABBA - Voyage

Okay so I’ve had several listens of my HMV vinyl since last night so I think it’s safe to say I’m really enjoying this album and it’s lovely to have them back, I Still Have Faith In You is already a nostalgic trip to it first being released in September whilst I was on a family holiday, this song was on the radio a lot all week so it definitely soundtracked it.
I’m loving When You Danced With Me, Keep An Eye On Dan, No Doubt About It and obviously Don’t Shut Me Down is the absolute highlight on here. The only song I don’t really care for is Little Things. Just A Notion is cute as previously said, I like it.

The nicest part is that I’ve been listening to this album with my parents, their Greatest Hits vinyl got a lot of plays as a kid and that was pretty much my entrance to them, so it was nice to experience new ABBA music with them.
iSHFIY - Frida lead, Agnetha back up, all 4 on the “we do have it in us…” parts.
Bjorn also has a backing vocal.

When You Danced With Me - Agnetha & Frida together

Little Things - Frida sings the lower part, Agnetha sings the higher part.

Don’t Shut Me Down - Agnetha sings the verses, both sing the chorus.

Just A Notion - all 4 sing the verses, Frida & Agnetha on the chorus. Agnetha sings the higher part.

I Can Be That Woman - Agnetha lead, Frida on backing

Keep An Eye On Dan - Agnetha sings the verses, Agnetha & Frida sing the bridge and chorus together. I think the boys might be on the chorus too.

Bumblebee - Frida solo, with a Agnetha backing as the song builds (like on “Put On Your White Sombrero”)

No Doubt About It - Frida on the verses, all 4 on the chorus but with a Frida lead.

Ode To Freedom - Frida & Agnetha

Both ladies sing on all songs. Some of the parts where the vocals are “bigger” is all 4. Frida’s voice is more dominant across a lot of the album. Agnetha’s voice is lower than it was and therefore our brains don’t naturally focus on her higher pitch like we would on an older ABBA track. Also I think Frida has far more vocal control than Agnetha in their older years.

Prime example of Frida’s excellent control is on No Doubt About It. The way she elongate her notes and ends in vibrato is gorgeous. Young singers would struggle but she does it so effortlessly.
I'm not totally sure, but I believe the first time I ever heard ABBA songs was during my Billie stan days!

I bought a pirated ABBA Gold during the family holiday to Turkey a few months later, and here I am!

But I think they're one of those bands where you already know a bunch of their songs, even if you don't realise it.
I Still Have Faith In You and Don't Shut Me Down are my songs of the year. I listen to them every day.
The bit where Agnetha's voice kicks in at "We do have it in us!" gets me every time. I sobbed the first several times I heard the song.
For some reason I love how she delivers "When I left, I felt I'd had enough" as well.
Have we all read Björn's descriptions of the songs from Apple Music?
“I don’t know of anybody who’s done it,” ABBA’s Björn Ulvaeus tells Apple Music. “Is there anybody?” He could be talking about the improbability of a Swedish pop group comprising two formerly married couples selling nearly 400 million albums worldwide and counting. He could also mean their impending residency at a purpose-built arena in London in which all four members will perform as ABBAtars—painstakingly motion-captured renderings of their circa-1978 selves—with a live band, potentially until, or beyond, the collapse of civilization. But he’s actually referring to the fact that ABBA is releasing their first album of new music in 40 years, an event that bears little historical precedent. “I constantly have those moments when I think, ‘How the hell did this all happen? Why is it that suddenly on TikTok two million people are following what we are doing?’ It's weird. It's all weird.”

This unlikely occurrence started becoming more likely around 2018 when Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson wrote two songs, the cheekily self-referential “I Still Have Faith in You” and “Don’t Shut Me Down,” for possible inclusion in the show, and approached their former partners, singers Agnetha Fältskog and Anni-Frid Lyngstad. “We asked the ladies and they were absolutely enthusiastic about going into the studio and trying their voices again,” Ulvaeus says. “And then after a while we thought, why not record a couple more? And there was absolutely nobody breathing down our necks.” The result is Voyage—nine new songs and one resurrected from their original incarnation, fitting for a project that renders the very notion of the passage of time meaningless. While ABBA's legacy is long since assured, their ABBAtars could revolutionize the prospects for artists looking to secure career options beyond this mortal coil. “The reason why it works is that we are still alive,” Ulvaeus says. “The cranium does not change over time. The rest of your body falls apart, but the cranium, they could take exact measurements, which they cannot with a video of Elvis. I bet you there are a lot of singers who will have these in a couple years. Everyone should have an ABBAtar.” Take a chance on these stories behind the songs on Voyage from Ulvaeus himself.

"I Still Have Faith in You"
“When Benny played it to me, I thought, ‘This is really epic.’ It's about us and the bonds we have, about the loyalty we have to each other, and celebrating the fantastic career that we've gone through. Or haven't gone through—there's a lot left of it, as it seems—but there are more layers than that today in that lyric, but that I want the listener to find out by himself.”

"When You Danced With Me"
“It's a bit Nordic, but maybe more Scottish and Irish. I lived in England for six years, between '84 and ’90, and I used to see these fairs that they had in the villages for the children. And that's what I saw before me when I heard the melody: a village fair, but somewhere in Ireland. It's about leavers and remainers. I grew up in a small town and I left it when I was 20. But somehow I'd come back to that little town and feel I have roots there.”

"Little Things"
“Benny tells me he didn't think of it as a Christmas song, but I, the minute I heard it, I said it cannot be anything else. It is early, early Christmas morning. The stockings are hanging right there and then this couple wakes up. This could be played for Christmases to come. And that would be great, because we want to own Christmas and New Year's Eve, like with [1980’s] 'Happy New Year.'”

"Don't Shut Me Down"
“At that time we were kind of getting the hang of what the ABBAtars would be. This is about a woman who has broken up and regrets breaking up. And she is going to come back and see if the guy will take her back. So she sits on a bench in a park and it gets dark. And finally she gets the courage up to go and knock on the door. That's it at face value, but I see it as us, as ABBAtars, knocking on the doors of the fans: Please take us as we are now and don't shut us down. It's a little flirt with the disco of the '70s, but other than that, I don't think that any of the old songs have had any impact on the new songs.”

"Just a Notion"
“It's from '78 and it's never been released in its entirety before. There's been snippets on YouTube, but we thought it's a great song and it has very good vocals on it. Benny did a new backing track, so the band is new but the voices are old. And it illustrates in a way what we are doing in the ABBAtar concert in London, because we will have a live band but the original vocals.”

"I Can Be That Woman"
“It's a country song, in essence. And a little gesture to the queen of country, as far as I'm concerned: Tammy Wynette. The good dog is called Tammy. There's a lot of stuff going into that song, but it's basically about someone who has come down from an addiction and finally come down into real life and is sorry about all the wasted years. But there's hope at the end of the tunnel: I can be that woman now. Only we know what is fact and what is fiction about our life experiences together. It's a kind of freedom that you get. With 70, you get that freedom.”

"Keep an Eye on Dan"
“Dan is the little child; his two parents are divorced and he is being left with one parent. All of us who have been divorced know what it's like to leave that little kid and seeing how absorbed that little kid is with the other parent. And he waves, or she, and you stand there and you feel, 'Argh.' I find it interesting to explore things that happen in relationships that haven't been explored before. I don't think that this has.”

“I've always found bumblebees or squids as powerful symbols for what we might lose with climate change. It's a symbol of the loneliness we will feel when these creatures perhaps vanish because they cannot adapt.”

"No Doubt About It"
“I've known a few people who kind of flare up and can't help it, but then very quickly sort of get calm again and say, 'Sorry, sorry, I shouldn't have done that. I shouldn't have said that.' So it is this woman, in that situation she is incensed with her husband, who is very calm. He knows, he just waits for it. And in the end it comes.”

"Ode to Freedom"
“The concept of freedom is so intriguing and it's so different for different kinds of people. This song is so majestic. I could never say what my freedom is, because that would be received as, 'Oh, you can say that you are rich, you're famous. Da, da.' This is not my ode to freedom; it's about how if I ever wrote one, it would be simple. I don't know what it would be about, but I wish someone would write one.”

Legit so much to unpack re: I Can Be That Woman. I completely get where he's coming from with it being like a country song lyrically, but musically it isn't at all. I love that the dog is named for Tammy Wynette! Poor Dolly and Reba missing out on the "queen of country" title though. The narrator being a recovering addict definitely makes the song make more sense, but it's... nowhere to be found in the actual lyrics nn.

(Side note, what breed of dog do you think Tammy is? I see her as a little border collie. Not to be dramatic, but I would die for Tammy.)

And not his commentary on Keep an Eye on Dan further revealing his ignorance of the real queen of country!
At last I listened to the album in full yesterday as life has been a bit hectic. I have to say I bloody love it. I’m so glad a band with their legendary status have stuck to their own original sound despite the passing of time. Why should a band like ABBA follow trends when they are so admired and an inspiration for so many. There is not a track I don’t like. However Don’t Shut Me Down and Bumblebee are my absolute highlights after a couple of plays. Such a welcome return when there is so much bland crap out there clogging up the charts.
Is there a jewel case edition in the UK? My deluxe CD is scratched already and I've only taken it out of the sleeve, very gently, once.