By Kieran Webber
Torgeir Waldemar is a troubadour hailing from the rugged and icy landscapes of Norway, in fact he is often considered “Norwegian Man In Black”. Waldemar has a similar sound and atmosphere to the likes of Neil Young, America and even Nilsson. However, this isn’t a replica nor a rip off, this is the sound of a genuine artist, telling a story and expressing emotion.
His latest release ‘Jamais Vu’, which means “a well-known situation, or experience, that feels unknown or new.” Is aptly named as we see some of his most popular tracks reimagined. Tracks that were electric are now acoustic and vise versa.
We start with an acoustic reimagining of his powerful ‘Sylvia (Southern People)’, the stripped back version puts the musical prowess on the back bench, which opens up a whole new emotive sphere. Where the guitar took the lead in the original, we now have a majestic piano and backing vocal that delicately melts over the top. Of course, Torgeir’s infamous pained vocals breeze through matched by the gentle plucks and strokes of his acoustic guitar. The original has the electric guitar pulsating through and is arguably the focus. However, this new rustic version boasts the songwriting and breathes a whole new life into the already stellar track.
This new wave of life is also present in the acoustic ‘Summer In Toulouse’, when seeing this in the tracklist I was scared as this is arguably one his strongest songs and certianly a personal favourite. However, I was left pleasantly surprised at the reconstruction. It carries a similar shift as the previously mentioned ‘Sylvia (Southern People)’ but with a slight psychedelic folk injection.
‘Jamais Vu’ thrives in it’s ingenious reconstruction of Torgeir’s music, especially when it comes to the electric versions of the ‘Streets’ and ‘Take Me Home’. Both tracks are almost unrecognisable, which is not a criticism. The focal point of the songwriting stays true but the music surrounding the words grows in size and doubles in power. In ‘Streets’ we see a rolling riff that divulges into a sprawling, yet the deep rooted emotion still strikes true throughout. A similar tone is heard in ‘Take Me Home’, yet channels a lot more energy. The rambling track strolls it’s way through until its cataclysmic psyched out tangent that gloats Torgeir’s guitar playing.
This latest body of work shows us Torgeir’s capability as a musician whilst boasting his ingenuity. He breathes new life into his music by shifting the sounds and introducing new instruments. It’s nice to hear a musician messing around with their music with such masterfullness, in fact it shows just how strong the songwriting is. Although the sounds are shifted the vocals and lyrics always blast through.