Trio Acoustica (Gateway Music, 2008)

As I said when I reviewed Kristine Heebøll a month or two ago, it's very common for Scandinavian folk musicians to be involved in multiple projects at the same time. Faroese guitarist Stanley Samuelson, whose solo album Tíðin Rennur was reviewed here recently, is also partners with a Norwegian guitarists Oistein Rian and Steen-Vidar Larsen in the group Trio Acoustica. On their self-titled album, the trio perform songs in all the Scandinavian languages of Germanic origin, and throw in some folk-rock standards from the sixties that listeners in the Anglophonic world will easily recognize.

As with Tíðin Rennur, fans of laid-back guitar music will like this record even if they don't always understand the words. The three guitars, and frequently the three voices as well, blend together nicely. From the perspective of an English-speaking listener, the one thing that would really distinguish Trio Acoustica from Tíðin Rennur, and presumably make it more accessible, is the inclusion of covers of The Beatles ("Norwegian Wood"), The Byrds ("Eight Miles High"), and Crosby, Stills, and Nash ("Helplessly Hoping"). The covers don't necessarily improve on the originals, but they do fit well on this record and offer a fresh perspective on familiar material. In particular, their guitar and mandolin arrangement of "Eight Miles High" shows that the song still works even when stripped of its trippy psychedelic underpinnings. The rest of the album contains mostly original compositions with the Brazilian-flavored "Dierdres Samba" and the jovial "Jeg har en gitar" being highlights.

Trio Acoustica is a pleasant effort from three skilled musicians that will appeal to people in the mood for something mellow. If I'd recommend this a bit more highly than Tíðin Rennur, it's not because of a clear difference in quality. Rather, the inclusion of some familiar songs might give the listener a frame of reference that makes it easier to understand and appreciate the remaining songs.

Overall grade: B+

reviewed by Scott

"Jeg har en gitar"

No comments: