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It’s coming to something when it’s a Norwegian artist who comes up with one of the most compelling examples of Americana that I’ve heard this year.  I say “Americana”, but that is only one tag that fits this rich piece of work. “Folk” would fit as well, but lyrically and musically Kreg is drawing from a broad range of influences and the character of his music is strongly flavoured by his distinctive, soulful voice.  He reminds me of a few people but I guess Ray Lamontagne might be the closest. The album was recorded in Norway with the help of a warmly empathic band of Norwegian musicians; acoustic guitar is to the fore, with piano featuring strongly as well. The sound is warm and intimate, inviting you to sit back and enter his world, comforted by a sound that wraps around you soothingly. In fact, there’s one killer tune here that is vaguely reminiscent of the more produced end of early 70’s folk revival – Renaissance maybe, or someone of that ilk. Half-Baked News features a gorgeous little tune picked out on the acoustic guitar and lovely backing vocals from Anne Lise Frøkedal that together make this something of a transcendent piece: put it on repeat for a while just to relish the place it transports you to.

The most interesting thing going on here is Kreg Viesselman’s love affair with lyric writing. It’s an English language affair and I would presume that this is his second language, but he plays with words endlessly, pairing words for their sound-alike characteristics and latching on to any number of cultural reference points – other songs, everyday sayings, the Bible, amongst others – to keep you on the hop as you try to take in the broad reach of his songs. His subject matter is wide-ranging – sometimes personal but not always – and there’s a murder ballad of sorts that is rather disturbing (The Well); it’s a quietly beautiful song, couched in mythological language but containing the seed of doubt that maybe we’re hearing about a real event here. Or maybe I’m missing something. Whatever, his approach is interesting, individual and idiosyncratic. There are times when you can’t easily follow his leaps of imagination and occasions when he phrases things in a slightly odd manner but heck, he’s leagues ahead of most British writers in terms of literacy, and that is very much to be welcomed. If You Lose Your Light is a really attractive piece of work with some strong highlights that’ll bring you back to it for repeated exploration. 


John Davy

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May 2018

John Prine
67 pts.
The Tree of Forgiveness
Oh Boy Records
Levi Parham
58 pts.
It's All Good
Continental Records
Jeb Barry and the Pawn Shop Saints
55 pts.
Texas, etc...
Michael McDermott
54 pts.
Out From Under
Continental Song City
Sam Morrow
48 pts.
Concrete and Mud
Forty Below Records
Caleb Caudle
39 pts.
Crushed Coins
Cornelius Chapel Records
Western Centuries
36 pts.
Songs From The Deluge
Free Dirt Records
Carter Sampson
34 pts.
Continental Song City
Charley Crockett
30 pts.
Lonesome as a Shadow
Son of Davy/30 Tigers
Courtney Marie Andrews
28 pts.
May Your Kindness Remain
Loose Music
Ed Romanoff
27 pts.
The Orphan King
Pinerock Records
Joan Baez
27 pts.
Whistle Down The Wind
Proper Records
Pharis and Jason Romero
27 pts.
Sweet Old Religion
Lula Records
Gretchen Peters
24 pts.
Dancing With The Beast
Proper Records
Old Crow Medicine Show
24 pts.
Columbia Records
Will Stewart
24 pts.
County Seat
Cornelius Chapel Records
Ben Reel
22 pts.
Land Of Escape
B REEL Records
Birds Of Chicago
22 pts.
Love In Wartime
Signature Sounds
Emily Herring
22 pts.
Eight 30 Records
Jenny van West
21 pts.
Happiness To Burn
Mary Gauthier
21 pts.
Rifles And Rosary Beads
In the Black Records
Sarah Shook & The Disarmers
20 pts.
Bloodshot Records
David Starr
19 pts.
South And East
Cold Tone Harvest
18 pts.
After You
Grant Peeples
17 pts.
Settling Scores vol. 2

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