JANSEN PLATEPRODKSJON RECORDS 17th March 2017
Seems like half of Scandinavia has an Americana band. Torgeir Waldemar got big praise back home in Norway, as well as here, for his Laurel Canyon-sounding debut a few years ago. Here he has taken elements of that but added full-on rock band to other tracks and based the whole round a distinctly pessimistic world-view. It makes for a tuneful and varied album, albeit one that won’t have you grinning ear to ear. Stylistically very varied; it’s worth doing a blow-by-blow to capture the variety.
Falling Rain is gloriously miserable but we can’t blame that on Torgeir; this is a Link Wray song that’s been covered by almost everyone in the world. Sung slow, it meanders through the mind of a burnt-out man. He can see no place where peace can be found – he hears stabbings, shootings and the world has gone insane. The sound belongs to his debut album acoustic and sparse. In contrast, Summer In Toulouse is a heartfelt Neil Young & Crazy Horse-style garage band stomp, a furious one. Among The Low is folk-rock, recalling Fairport Convention at times. Island Bliss returns us to acoustic melancholy; “what happened to the melodies that we heard in the hills”; “now that you’re gone, I will put my body under the ground.” Sylvia hits Neil Young vocal tones again (think Southern Man) but touches on Lynyrd Skynyrd territory too. The tracks like this drive hard and are determinedly proselytising; “remember that we’re all going to die”. Despite the lyrical hardness, the guitar work is great – classic 70s American rock.
The Bottom Of The Well flips it over again to something slow and simple, with inexplicable sounds of hammering and sawing in the background. Waldemar is at the bottom of the well – nowhere further down to go. Souls On A String is pretty much vocals with echo, harmonies and organ at the outset, fleshing out with a country shuffle band. A lament for a lost woman, it is simple and sad, taking us to I See The End, which is a gentle number to close on, a campfire acoustic guitar piece, easing some of the angst away.
There’s nothing clever or complex about this set; it is all about the sound, the music and the mood. It’s not a happy mood but it is a passionate one and worthy of a late-night wallow.