Revisiting Agnetha Fältskog’s ‘My Colouring Book’ 20 Years Later: A Journey of Nostalgia and Growth

Nathaniel Christopher

On this day in 2004, Agnetha Fältskog, best known as a member of ABBA, released “My Colouring Book,” her first new album in 17 years.

At that time in 2004, I was 22-years-old and absolutely obsessed with ABBA. The group had unofficially disbanded in 1982 and it seemed unlikely they would ever reunite. Agnetha, in particular, appeared the least interested in an ABBA reunion. Therefore, her return to the music industry was a wonderful surprise to many and deeply resonated with my burgeoning sense of hope for the future.

My copy of “My Colouring Book” by Agnetha Fältskog.

For many years, I had listened to music from another generation or older children, assuming they knew good taste. That music always felt borrowed, whereas “My Colouring Book” truly felt like it belonged to me because it was new music from an artist I loved, released during a critical period in my formative years.

Context and Excitement

In 2004, I was in my third year of studies at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario. Like many people, I had a difficult childhood. However, attending university in Ontario had always been my dream—a symbol of potential success and stability.

A photo of me in Toronto around the time I bought the album. I made that “ABBA” shirt with my inkjet printer and some iron-on T-shirt transfer paper that I bought at Staples.

This period marked a turning point in my life. It was a positive, affirming phase where I was able to create a healthy, supportive environment for myself, largely thanks to the generous support of the Trent and Peterborough communities. For the first time, I began to understand what it meant to navigate the world as an agent of positive change, rather than feeling like a bitter victim.

I did well in my studies, actively participated in the student union, wrote for the campus newspaper, and enjoyed a vibrant social life. It was a wonderful phase, and Agnetha’s new album became the soundtrack of this transformative time.

A photo that I took of Trent University in June 2005.

As an active member of the forums on the official ABBA website, I connected with fellow obsessed ABBA fans who discussed every aspect of the group’s music and their post-ABBA endeavours. Many in this community shared the view that Agnetha was the least likely to return to music or public life, which made the news of her forthcoming album in early 2004 all the more delightful.

Initial Reception and Personal Connection

I purchased the CD album at Sam the Record Man on Yonge Street in Toronto and one of the singles at Tower Records in San Francisco. It was a joy to talk about Agnetha’s music with the music store employees, who seemed to regard her with respect, especially the gentleman who worked at Tower Records.

My photo of “Sam the Record Man” on Yonge Street in Toronto in 2004.

Additionally, the physical album art was distinctive. The album and single covers each featured low-resolution black and white photos of Agnetha on coloured paper or cardstock. The album itself was pink, and the singles in my collection were red, blue, and orange.

Upon first listening, the new album took some getting used to. While I liked it, I didn’t love it initially. It departed significantly from ABBA’s style and even from Agnetha’s earlier solo work. In fact, all the songs were covers of tracks that had been popular during my mother’s formative years.

I used the free font “What Time is It?” for the header image on this site back in 2001, which coincidentally was the same font used for the album and promotional art in ‘My Colouring Book.'”

I remember writing a negative review in the campus paper:

“My Colouring Book provides the perfect background music for a quiet evening on the porch, sipping tea and staring at the sky. But you could save yourself some time and money and pop a few sleeping pills—it will undoubtedly have the same effect as this album. Agnetha, the longtime holdout for an ABBA reunion, has put virtually no effort into promoting her album, much to the chagrin of ABBA and Agnetha fans everywhere.”

—Nathaniel Christopher / Toast [Peterborough, Ont.] August 1, 2004

Looking back, I cringe at that review today—I was wrong.

Over the following months, I listened to the album regularly during my walks and bike rides in Peterborough and around the Trent University campus, and I grew to appreciate every aspect of its production and the songs.

By January 2005, my perspective had changed:

“Moved by encouragement from her fans, she has once again ventured into the recording studio to produce thirteen heartfelt songs, all of which have deep personal meaning for her. They were songs she grew up listening to. Far from a heavily commercialized product, this record is Agnetha’s personal tribute to her legions of fans who have enjoyed her music over the years and to the artists who inspired her to create it.”

—My blog entry dated January 3, 2005
I own three of the CD singles released from “My Colouring Book.” I bought the one in the centre in San Francisco back in 2004.

Overall, the album had an incredibly sophisticated, rich, and bright sound that still holds up well to this day. Agnetha’s vocals are as strong and emotive as ever—she sounds phenomenal.

What really puts this album over the top is the incredible production and mixing of the tracks. Yes, the songs are old and were hits in the ’60s, but the new recording and mixing of them made them sound so fresh and contemporary.

The album’s sound was consistent with the late ’90s and early 2000s Swedish pop style—tight, melodic, and vibrant. This fresh approach to classic songs from the ’60s added a contemporary edge that resonated with me.

The first song I heard from “My Colouring Book” was “If I Thought You’d Ever Change Your Mind,” released as the album’s first single on April 12, 2004. It was a sweet love song that departed significantly from Agnetha’s previous new single, “Let it Shine,” an ’80s pop song released in December 1987. We were thrilled on the ABBA forums when “If I Thought You’d Ever Change Your Mind” reached second place on the Swedish singles chart and 11th place on the UK singles chart. We had hoped it would climb even higher into the top 10.

My favourite track from the album was the upbeat song “When You Walk in the Room.” Its joyful melodies captured the essence of what I loved about ABBA’s music. Moreover, the song resonated with the feelings of anticipation and excitement I had towards a young man I was dating at the time.

Another standout for me was the SoundFactory radio edit of “Sometimes When I’m Dreaming,” a promo single I obtained online. This hauntingly beautiful song mirrored my feelings of isolation and disappointment in some of my relationships at that time. However, SoundFactory’s edit gave the song a calm, uplifting and almost anthemic character that validated my experiences and feelings even more.

Artistic Appreciation and Personal Growth

It’s noteworthy that this album is a compilation of songs Agnetha loved during her formative years. In addition to being a recording artist admired by millions, she’s also a fan. This album is, in part, a tribute to the artists who shaped her heart and mind.

Promotional art from released by Sony in conjunction with “My Colouring Book.” I believe this was intended to be a desktop background.

“I have enjoyed these songs all my life, and they hold a special place in my heart. My effort was to recreate these songs with all respect for the originals. ‘My Colouring Book’ is my way of showing gratitude toward the songs, the artists, and all they have given me.”

Agnetha Fältskog “My Colouring Book,” liner notes. 19 April 2004.

While I’ve listened to a few tracks from this album regularly over the years, I hadn’t listened to the album in its entirety again until last year when I was dealing with loss and grief.

I love listening to upbeat songs when I go to the gym; however, I don’t always want to hear happy music when I’m feeling sad or depressed. This album, however, allows me to listen to sad music that I can work out to. This, in turn, has given me the opportunity to rediscover how wonderful the album really is.

It has also triggered warm feelings of nostalgia for my life as it was in 2004—for the people I knew, the place I lived, and the community I was a part of. Sometimes, nostalgia makes me sad, but this kind of nostalgia makes me happy because it was a time of manifestation—a time of building the life I wanted on my own terms. It also reminds me that the hopes and dreams I had then have been fulfilled. I feel connected to my “past-self” in a positive way.

Musical Impact and Lasting Influence

I feel that recognition for Agnetha’s solo work has somewhat taken a backseat since ABBA reunited and released their 10th album, “Voyage,” along with their holographic show at the ABBA Arena in London. In 2022, I travelled to London partly to see that show in person. While it was wonderful, it lacked the personality and warmth of “My Colouring Book.”

My friends Cliff, James and me at the ABBA Arena in London in July 2022. I recall this as a highlight of my life.

Today, however, presents a perfect opportunity to pay tribute to a great album and everyone involved in its production, especially Agnetha.

Agnetha was appealing to her own nostalgia by recording this album; however, I am now appealing to my own nostalgia by listening to it. This album is something from my youth, and now it’s 20 years old. When I listen to the album today, it speaks to my present-day hope for love and connection, as well as my earnest desire to build a healthy and happy life.

I am a resident of Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada, who has been blogging here for nearly 25 years. I enjoy sharing my thoughts and feelings on my own online platform. From 1998 until 2017, I worked as a journalist, and I have posted most of my articles in the 'News' section of this website.

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