Leading Norwegian folk musician Fjeld follows his 2019 collaboration with Judy Collins and Chatham County Line with a gentle 14-track folk/Americana blend, with all but one track sung in English.
Jonas Fjeld is well known as a leading folk musician in his native Norway, with a career stretching back five decades. And, for the second half of his long career, he has been actively forging musical relationships with like-minded musicians in the USA. Best known in the USA for his 2019 collaboration ‘Winter Stories‘ with Judy Collins and Chatham County Line – which topped the billboard Bluegrass chart for 4 weeks -his collaborators have included Rick Danko of The Band and Eric Andersen in the trio Danko/Fjeld/Andersen, with whom he recorded the album of the same name in 1991. His collaboration with Chatham County Line goes back to 2004, and the influences of bluegrass and his Norwegian folk heritage can both be heard in his new release ‘To The Bone’ – his first in the English language since 1999.
American country singer-songwriter Hugh Moffatt is credited with co-writes on most of the 14 songs on the album, with writing contributions also from Dave Wilson, Jim Sherraden, Karen Pell, and Norwegian author Arne Svingen who collaborated on the one Norwegian song ‘Vi veit aldri’ featured.
The album’s gentle charms are amply demonstrated on the opening track ‘Dust in my Wallet’, its mid-tempo vibe established from the off with prominent accordion and fiddle, with its refrain of “coming home to you” and telling of hardships of the travelling musician, always on the road. The title track ‘To The Bone’ has a reflective tone, with Fjeld singing “Looking back on those I’ve known/they came in every shape and size and colours too/ a rainbow band of light”, with a plaintive trumpet adding emotion, an elegy to our common humanity.
‘I Can Dance’ takes us into country/soul territory, led by Memphis-style horns and keys, while the horns and keys on ‘Love Strikes’ lean towards the soulful end of jazz-funk. Fjeld’s folk roots are evident on the acoustic guitar-led ‘Rosie‘, while the charming ‘Simple Love’ prefaces its arrangement of guitar with duet vocals with a spikey intro, complete with ‘found sounds’ of gulls. ‘Distant Drums’ is a sensitive and atmospheric piano ballad, with flute accompaniment with Fjeld singing “Snow light shines/lifts my eyes/ to the stars/pinprick memories”.
A relaxing album whose gentle charms deserve repeated listens.