by James Fleming
The record opens with a Nebraska style, acoustic-led track, complete with mournful harmonica playing. By the second tune, the album has morphed into Neil Young-style nastiness; gnarly guitar riff, solid rockin’ back beat, genuinely soulful, and I don’t use that word lightly, vocals. Torgeir Waldemar has crafted a stellar record in No Offending Borders.
Norway’s own Man in Black, Waldemar raised eyebrows and expectations with his debut album three years ago. And it was very much in the aforementioned Nebraska vein. Gentle acoustic guitar based tracks of an unusually high quality. Unusual because just about everyone since Ed Sheeran went platinum is doing it, badly.
However, on No Offending Borders, Torgeir has picked up the electric guitar and, in cranking things up a notch or two, he has expanded his horizons and displayed his reluctance to be backed into the quiet corner.
But don’t be fooled, this isn’t a James Taylor-like character striving for “gritty” credibility. This is simply a man who is very, very good at what he does. And clearly, he can do quite a lot…
While the album is basically being billed as “Waldemar goes electric,” there’s much more to it than that. The first two minutes of Souls On A String feature synthesiser accompaniment, and the synths add chilling atmospherics to Island Bliss. No matter what his tools; voice, guitar, synths, one fact is clear: Waldemar can write a tune.
And that’s the key, that’s the trick. No matter the genre, if your songs aren’t up to scratch, you won’t go very far will you? And with so much product being churned out in this day and age, the importance of great songs is being made ever clearer.
There appears to be a lack of them. Which is why guys and girls like Torgeir are so refreshing to hear; they’ll restore your faith in humanity. Or at least, in humanity’s talents.
‘Cause we’re not all bad. In these days of turmoil, turbulence and Trump, we need reminding of that. Or at least a decent soundtrack.
Something to lash out to, something to fuckin’ get MAD to, something to get down about and with, and something to soothe the soul. No Offending Borders is a record for all of that. It’s a human record.
And, not to belittle his accomplishments, but all he did was write some decent tunes. And lo he has put a bit of life into this humble blue-green world. And that’s what we need: a bit of life.