TOM BJERG – Hurtigt Ud/Hurtigt Hjem

Home. Far away dreaming. Balancing rest and unrest with lyrical comfort and adventure. I feel strangely at home in Tom Bjerg’s debutalbum. “Hurtigt Ud/Hurtigt Hjem” excels at taking you out of your own head for a night of sustained listening.

The first thing that hits me is how wonderfully musical the lyrics are. Any melody — or none at all — could make these words sound good. The melodies tasked with carrying them work equally well, allowing music and lyrics to find one another, creating something special along the way.

The song “Timer Nok” blasts the album open with an explosion of joy. Electric guitar and piano arrangements glide in and out of prominence, as the sections wax and wane in and out of forte. The rhythm section underneath maintains an energetic, yet relaxedly confident feel, while the bass and drums excel at their job as if the musicians aren’t even trying. The lyrics point to a state of mind where life turns into art. The music takes you there.

Arranged with a sound consistent with “Timer Nok”, the laid back drive of Nord” forms an ethereal counterpart to its predecessor. Harmonised layers of acoustic guitars greet the ears with a warm welcome to the vistas of worlds unseen outside of dreams. The calming atmosphere turns to restless energy and introspection in the title track that describes a discontent of time and place. And who doesn’t love a nice trumpet solo over some extended chord changes? It’s as if Sting’s “Dream of the Blue Turtles” suddenly came by and sat in with the band.

Simply for its soundscapes and indelible atmosphere, I must declare Små Og Store Vaner” my favourite song on the album. So many bits and pieces that I love individually come together to form a beautiful whole. I love tremolo-laden electric guitar drenched in echo and reverb, I love jazz pianists working their magic at the fringes of acceptable pop harmony, I love vocal pauses that allow the arrangement to shine and the mind to contemplate the interplay between the music, the lyrics and how they work together.

“Når Natten” lends itself to intimacy. The waves kindly and calmly crashing upon the shore make wonderful companions to this lullaby that is simple by design and charming for it. Some may say that it brings the album’s momentum to a halt. I say it allows the senses to take a power nap, allowing them to welcome the next track. Ny Start” reminds me of both Michael Jackson’s “Billy Jean” and Det Brune Punktum’s “Kom, Lad os Gå” with some tasty horns added for good measure. It shakes up its soundscapes at all the right moments.

Once again, the joy of adventure gives way to a feeling of restlessness in Så Langt”. I don’t mind. It takes more than thematic repetition to ruin my day, especially when done so well. This song reminds me of why I am a lifelong fan of woodwind instruments, here arranged and played in constant reverence of the album’s themes. It is a joy for me to piece together the intention and performance of “Hurtigt Ud/Hurtigt Hjem” every stone turned reveals another way to interpret the lyrics.

“Lad Os Gå” is a song that initially seems less interesting compared to those before it. That changes when the harmonies open up the tune akin to clouds after a heavy rain, and I find myself thankful for every drop of percussion.

When the time comes for the album to end, what could signal it better than a moody harmonica? Hvis Vi Skal” seemingly endeavours to close the LP with an energy that leaves the listener smiling, and it succeeds. Like any good closer, it plays upon the memory of the songs it follows. On its own merits, “Hvis Vi Skal” is neither as adventurous as “Timer Nok”, as inviting as “Nord”, nor as captivating as “Små Og Store Vaner”, but it does not need to be. It wraps up the album in a way that none of the other songs could, making you glad for having listened to “Hurtigt Ud/Hurtigt Hjem” as a whole. It serves as a send-off to an album that I look forward to hearing again, preferably high on laughter in a way that only the most charming company can provide, because that is the essence of this record. Intoxicatingly charming, like that perfect balance between rest and unrest that takes you to unfamiliar places, where you are greeted with unexpected adventure.

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