Here is a piece of dull, white soul

May 15 • By • 752 Views • No Comments on Here is a piece of dull, white soul Albums, Issue 04 // May 2012, NOR REVIEWS Tagged with •

3 I’m so glad I spent this day with you  by  Jørn Åleskjær
Released: 03/05/2012 • Label: VME

It sounds good on paper. Loch Ness Mouse-member Jørn Åleskjær goes solo with major help from the Nikolaisen-family (Serena Maneesh). His mission: To make white man’s 70’s soul, piano driven and mellow.

This league doesn’t offer many serious competitors in contemporary Norway, but when you got that star cast of studio magicians and the aftertaste of Christianity: Who knows what can happen?

Let’s just burst the bubble: Nothing happens. You can play the entire record without experiencing a single shift of emotional capital. My significant other walked in on this review and remarked that it sounded like what you would get for background music in a spa. In case you have never listened to music while getting a hot stone massage by a muscular Swede : That is not really a compliment.

The title track echoes Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day” not only in words, but also in melody. This is dangerous business, going head to head with a master. Not even the sweet voice of Elvira Nikolaisen can save the song from death by dull, piano boredom. To be perfectly honest, it sounds like a demo tape that Billy Joel threw away. Adult pop boiled down to the most radio friendly stew you can imagine.

Jørn is probably a stronger songwriter than he is a singer/front man. I am not saying you have to have a powerful voice or hit perfect notes to make a great album, but if you are trying to channel the sound of the 70’s, you’re really punching with the heavyweights. When your inspirations are Rundgren and the Beach Boys, expectations of vocal mastery start to emerge. Jørn is not a bad singer, he just really lacks power. So few of the songs are sung with confidence, you get the feeling that he is singing to himself, straight into the piano. It is introverted, but not in that good personal sense. It feels more awkward. Music that makes you shrug your shoulders and go: Eh.

Why does nice provoke me so much? Shouldn’t I get more radio-friendly the older I get? You would guess there is a time and place in your life for background radio tunes like Åleskjær churns out. But I just can’t shake the feeling that music should be emotion, it should provoke and shock me a little. It should annoy me and stick in my brain and give me some sort of taste in my mouth. Even though God is not mentioned on the album as far as I can tell, his presence is felt in the toothless, let’s-all-hold-hands-spirit of the sound. It just doesn’t ring my bell. Not even close. For a so-called soul album, this record lacks the main ingredient: Soul.


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