In recent years I have been undertaking a voyage of discovery into the blues, seeking out pre-war acoustic albums as well as becoming quite a fan of the abrasive staccato approach of Lightnin’ Hopkins and seeking out T-Bone Walker wherever I could. This album from Norwegian Håkon Høye reminds me very much of the classic days of the blues before it became too swamped in rock. This is an album of originals, recorded mostly with just Per Tobro (bass) and Vetle Larsen (drums), although there are plenty of other musicians when he needs to bring them in . This is Americana, and while The Band is an obvious influence, most of the time he sits squarely in the Sixties with his wonderfully chopped guitar style being perfectly suited to his sliding and welcoming vocals.
There is no way that this album could have come from Norway, as it belongs in the land of the delta, where the blues is a living and breathing thing. His solos are concise and to the point, and it reminds me of the admonishments of Harry Chapin’s “Bluesman” where he tells the youngster “A fool plays the blues like Machine Gun Kelly, Five hundred notes to the bar, And if you’re going to stick with me, You’ve got to learn what the blues really are”. There is no doubt Høye knows exactly what the blues are all about, and when the “Sons Of The Soul Revivers” provide the backing vocals combined with sax, he is taking it into a far more soulful and delicious area.
If anyone enjoys classic blues and Americana then this album is an absolute delight. I just have issues getting my head around the fact it is from Norway as this sounds American to the core. Superb.
9/10 Kev Rowland