It’s a brave man who chooses to kick off an album with a version of a tune written by late US guitar legend Link Wray, especially one that has been covered so well by so many artists, but luckily, Norway’s grammy nominee Torgeir Waldemar has recorded a truly beautiful stripped down acoustic take of ‘Falling Rain‘. Channelling Harvest era Neil Young, it stands proudly and boldly up there with definitive versions by not only Wray himself but also The Neville Brothers and, perhaps most impressively, Karl Blau. I’m not sure it’s even possible to do this song badly, if I’m perfectly honest (all of those mentioned are truly exceptional), but Waldemar paints it with a particularly poignant vision, the theme of No Offending Borders being one of devastation throughout its eight song duration.
Torgeir goes electric on song number two, ‘Summer In Toulouse‘, but I’m doing this from a bedroom in Leicester, so you won’t find any Newport style boos ringing out around the arena here. Hell no. Creedence Clearwater Revival meets Dylan at Laurel Canyon, perhaps. Maybe even shades of Lynyrd Skynyrd here and there. He’s an old folkie at heart though, as evidenced by the banjo led ‘Among The Low‘, but it’s not all “Hey Nonny Nonny” and twee eulogies to departed goldfish, as Waldemar employs caterwauling guitars amongst the track’s almost Flamenco like splendour to give it something of an edge.
Don’t expect an easy ride though, for No Offending Borders is often psychologically draining, tackling the darkest of subject matters, such as suicide or the refugee crisis, yet it is always administered with the utmost of tact, so it never really feels like an endurance test. I am loathe to call Waldemar’s brand of songwriting “folk rock”, for the sound is somewhat more expansive than such pigeonholing could reasonably convey.
The majestic ‘Sylvia (Southern People)‘ would not be amiss in the formerly mentioned Canadian ‘grungefather’ circa 1970, lasting just over seven minutes and bearing all the hallmarks of a classic 1970s rock epic, but it’s when you really start to pay attention to the lyrics that it really hits you just what a talent we have here: “Swinging bullwhip over foreign heads/bragging ’round of our peaceful nest/swimming around in gold, spoiled by oil/creating debts for the little ones.” Clearly, Torgeir Waldemar is not just a great musician and wordsmith, he is also a true humanitarian, a gentleman, and beleaguered spokesman for this (hopefully temporarily) broken generation.
No Offending Borders is released on 24th March through Jansen Plateproduksjon.
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