Monday 10 December 2012

Kjartan Bue - Man Riding Backwards EP

EP review by KevW

It's interesting that one of the best Americana records of recent months comes from Denmark. Whether or not it can therefore be called Americana or not we'll leave for you to decide, but you know the sound we mean. 'Man Riding Backwards' is the debut EP from half Norwegian, half Danish singer-songwriter Kjartan Bue and was recorded in May using whatever equipment they could lay their hands on, meaning that essentially the EP was made for free, with the only aid coming from producer Niels Henrik Egsgaard. So you can forget and of the jamming, orchestration or chamber-pop that often accompanies music of this nature. As a rule there is little more here than an acoustic guitar and a voice; a combination that can often be magical yet equally as often be dull.

In this instance it works wonderfully. If we presume that it's likely that English is Bue's second language then he has an excellent turn of phrase and is capable of some great storytelling. This is most evident on the dramatic tale 'Rosen And Danny' where the subject matter is dealt with expertly and not in a ham-fisted or blunt way, using lines like "time went by, Danny touched her thigh, her belly grew and grew" that add a subtlety to the story. 'Long Walks' and 'If I Don't Need You' are further examples of carefully considered writing that display just what a great lyricist he is, and not only that; these songs may be largely created with an acoustic guitar but the range of sounds and techniques used make this far more diverse than you may expect. If the EP was a competition then the title-track may win by a nose from 'Rosen And Dany', but for raw songwriting of this nature Kjartan Bue is surely amongst the finest of the current crop.

Kjartan Bue's website

Stream or download the EP

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