Thank you for the solo music, Agnetha
An Abba reunion may be on the cards, but I'd be content with Ms Fältskog's last collection, the best album of the noughties
So Agnetha Fältskog has said yes to an ABBA reunion. Or at least she has intimated that she would not, in the right circumstances, be averse to coming out of seclusion to participate in an event that would be worth millions. Those who have spent the last six years listening to her most recent solo album would claim, however, that Agnetha can do very well indeed without whatever a reunion with Björn, Benny and Frida might bring. The collection of songs titled My Colouring Book, which she conceived, produced and released in 2004, provides all the evidence anyone could need that she is an independent, free-standing artist of great imagination and resource, who has no need of the ABBA formula in order to thrive.
I like all sorts of stuff, some of it quite "difficult", some not. But if I had to nominate the one album that made the first decade of the 21st century completely worthwhile, it might very well be Agnetha's effort, the product of a perfectly attuned old-school pop sensibility and the default setting in many different iPod situations.
In the tradition of Bryan Ferry's These Foolish Things and David Bowie's Pin-Ups, My Colouring Book is a collection of songs that meant a great deal to Fältskog during her adolescence. She is 60 now, which means that they come from the 1960s – but the 60s of a young girl who was falling in love with music before the Beatles came along.
This is the purest of pop, beautifully realised, and it is very easy, when listening to her versions of If I Thought You'd Ever Change Your Mind, Love Me With All Your Heart, The End of the World, Remember Me or the album's title track, to summon up a poignant image of the young Agnetha at home in her bedroom, spinning the versions by Cilla Black, Petula Clark, Skeeter Davis, Sandie Shaw and Dusty Springfield, letting every note and every word engrave itself on her heart, identifying with seemingly evanescent emotions and imagining life and loves to come.
Maybe you need a sweet tooth to get full value from this, but there is nothing soft-centred about her versions of What Now, My Love or the Shangri-Las' epic Past, Present and Future. Jackie DeShannon's When You Walk in the Room would be a great song in almost any hands (not least for my all-time favourite couplet: "I close my eyes for a second and pretend it's me you want / Meanwhile I try to act so nonchalant") and Agnetha's definitive reading trounces not only the composer's original but subsequent versions by the Searchers, Bruce Springsteen (in concert) and Paul Carrack.
This is the music of the girl who grew up, sadder and wiser, to sing The Day Before You Came, Benny and Björn's masterpiece. And I'd rather have a Volume 2 of My Colouring Book than any number of Abba reunions.