Torgeir Waldemar “Love” (Jansen Records, 2020)

‘Love’ is Norwegian troubadour Torgeir Waldemar’s follow up to the well-received ‘No Offending Borders‘ album released in 2017. Described by his publicists as (his) “most ambitious work to date”, and “inspired by Brian Wilson’s ‘Love and Mercy’” this ambition is perhaps the album’s downfall.

Combining elements of Americana, with larger contributions from the folkier end of prog rock, this collection of songs lacks coherence, ranging from frequently overlong tracks (the epic and sprawling closing track ‘Black Ocean‘ runs to 14.42; four other tracks are 7.00 plus) to two short instrumental interludes which seem out of place in the whole.

Lyrical content has not always been the strongest element of prog rock, and that proves to be the case too often here -“I like you and you like me it’s how it’s meant to be to the end “(‘Contagious Smile’) fairly reflecting the lyrical approach. Similarly, the lead vocals, when not augmented with harmonies, are not always strong enough to carry the songs.

From an Americana perspective, the strongest tracks are ‘Leaf in the Wind’, with 12 string guitar prominent, and where the influence of CSNY can be found in the sections where the lead vocals are backed with pleasing harmonies, though at times shading closer to Madness (notably in the refrain “We are just a leaf passing in the wind“), ‘Contagious Smile’ with prominent harmonica, and ‘Heart and Gold’ which has an infectious and memorable riff.

In summary, an album with elements of promise, which could be more fully realised with greater focus on lyrical content, and sharper, and shorter, delivery of songs.

Ambitious sprawling prog rock with Americana flavours
6/10

Author: David Jarman

Long time fan of Americana genre, from early days of Ry Cooder, through to today's thriving scene. Regular visitor to USA ( Nashville/Austin/Memphis/LA ) live music junkie, I play guitar, mandolin, harmonica, plus vocals, run monthly jam session in Broadstairs

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