“Songs never stand still, at least not for me. They want to go on. After some years of playing them live, many have moved far away from where their starting point was. That’s why I often experience Jamais Vu and that’s how this release was born.”
So says Norway’s Torgeir Waldemar of his new album, which reimagines previously released tracks as a kind of musical antonym, hence its title, which is a lesser encountered way of saying ‘déjà vu.’
It’s a striking set of interpretations, with several tracks from his 2017 album No Offending Borders being stripped of their sparkly trousers and made to perform in their underpants, just for the heck of it. Thankfully, those pants fit perfectly and any potential embarrassment is smartly sidestepped. But more of those later, for the real highlights here are those plucked from Waldemar’s self titled 2014 debut, especially ‘Take Me Home‘, which is sent off on a Harley Davidson, Easy Rider style, for a scintillating blast through the stunning Nordic countryside, except in this case, with a much happier ending.
‘Streets‘, on the other hand, has the slightly rockier sound of Fairport Convention‘s often unfairly dismissed debut album, if Duane Allman had tied up Richard Thompson and bagsied the lead guitar berth for himself. Like ‘Take Me Home‘, its a bit of a stunner really.
There are only 5 tracks here, obviously all of considerable length, with the first three being acoustic versions of some of the key moments from the aforementioned No Offending Borders. Now, there is no doubt that hearing them dismantled and rearranged in this way underlines what a great songwriter Torgeir is, opener ‘Sylvia (Southern People)‘ having been transformed from the hard hitting country rock style of Crazy Horse into something altogether more eerie, like a lost lover’s words blowing fruitlessly in the lonely wind. This is by far the most effective of the more introspective numbers. Not that there’s anything wrong with the new versions of ‘Among The Low‘ (now a beautifully picked folk anthem) or ‘Summer In Toulouse‘ either, you understand, but you know how sometimes you stuff yourself with biscuits all day and then you do the same again the next day until you can’t face another damn biscuit for at least another week? Well that’s how I feel with Jamais Vu. Appetising, sometimes delicious, but ultimately, the harder biscuits are the only ones you find yourself returning to on a regular basis.
Jamais Vu is out on 9th March through Jansen Records.