Review – Bjørn Riis – Coming Home – by Progradar

Haunting and Melancholic are two words that can definitely be used to describe the songs that Norwegian musician Bjørn Riis has delivered on his last two solo releases, ‘Lullabies In A Car Crash’ and ‘Forever Comes To An End’. There is a fragile beauty and poignancy to Bjørn’s songwriting that gives it a captivating, hypnotic attraction.

Airbag co-founder, songwriter and lead guitarist, Bjørn will release his new mini album titled ‘Coming Home’ next month on Karisma Records. His unique guitar playing has a centre role, with soaring leads and beautiful textures.

“I’ve always felt that the guitar is an extension of me and a more comfortable and natural way of expressing myself musically” – Bjørn explains.

“I’m really happy and proud of the vocals this time and the duet with me and (Norwegian singer) Sichelle on Drowning is very emotional” – Bjørn continues.

Lyrically, ‘Coming Home’ deals with the fear and insecurity of being forgotten by the people around you. You imagine all these dramatic scenes and wonder if you’ll ever be missed if something really was to happen.

‘Coming Home’ also features a newly recorded semi-acoustic version of the title track of Bjørn’s 2014 solo debut, ‘Lullabies in a Car Crash’ (Karisma Records). “Lullabies just fit right into the mood and theme of this album. It’s almost become a new song. It’s very honest and moving” – Bjørn explains. The track features Airbag and Bjørn Riis Band touring guitarist Ole Michael Bjørndal on lead guitar.

‘Coming Home’ is almost like a story where the scene is set by the brooding and darkly hued opening instrumental track Daybreak. A real slow burner, it takes a while to get moving with just a building sound that reminds you of a bleak and windswept vista before the deliberate, musing guitar fills the soundscape with a contemplative feel.

A sparse acoustic guitar washes over at the start of title track Coming Home, Bjørn’s slightly faltering vocal is full of emotion as this elegant track continues to gently lull you with its charms. A more laid back feel than the previous album emanates from every note and word as the music seems to meander towards an unseen destination. There’s a slight pause before Bjørn delivers a superb, note perfect guitar solo filled with passion and longing, one that soars high and free as a bird. As the song comes to a close I feel some kind of nostalgic yearning that I just can’t explain.

The wistful, contemplative tone continues with the fantastic Drowning, a song filled with feelings of loss and recrimination but one that still has a sense of wonder about it. The calm and serenity of the guitar and Bjørn’s vocal that open the track can’t shake an underlying aura of foreboding. Sichelle’s vocals add a fragile grace to the harmonies and the music gains added intensity, the guitar giving urgency and desperation to proceedings until it breaks like waves on immovable rocks. Sichelle takes us towards the end with a voice full of regret, the guitar adding a somber accompaniment as we come to a close.

Tonight’s The Night is a haunting (there you go, I told you!) instrumental that has you on the edge of your seat from the first note with its insistent piano and tense , ill at ease mood. There is no let up from beginning to end and I found myself visibly relaxing as the song came to an end.

The acoustic version of ‘Lullabies in a Car Crash’ unsurprisingly has a lighter tone to the other songs, a sepia-tinged piece of music underpinned by a wonderful acoustic guitar. The vocals are gossamer light giving the whole song a 70’s carefree spirit before a subtly powerful guitar solo gets under your skin and takes you to a place of utmost calm and reflection, without a care in the world. A remarkably honest reworking of the original track, it really is like a completely new song.

‘Coming Home’ feels like a very personal collection of songs, full of emotion, haunting and charismatic yet sparser and darker than Bjørn’s previous solo releases. Like all the best music, it needs to be listened to with little or no distractions to enjoy it in all its highly impressive glory. Bjørn Riis is one of those musicians who just gets better and better with each release, highly recommended.

Released 23rd February 2018

Pre-orders open soon at  Bjørn’s website below:

Recordings

 

 

Bjørn Riis – Forever Comes to an End – Released 19th May 2017 on Karisma Records

Airbag co-founder, songwriter and lead guitarist, Bjørn Riis will release his second solo album, ‘Forever Comes to an End’, in May 2017. The album is the follow-up to the highly acclaimed and awarded debut, ‘Lullabies in a Car Crash’.
‘Forever Comes to an End’ feature seven songs, with inspiration from classic rock, prog and movie scores. Bjørn’s unique guitar playing has a centre role, with soaring leads, heavy riffs and beautiful textures.
Lyrically, the album deals with broken relationships and loss and the emotional duality between resentment and forgiving.

The album is very much a tribute to all of Bjørn’s musical influences. From the dark and dirty riffs of Toni Iommi and Zakk Wylde, to the emotional playing of David Gilmour and Steven Rothery. The melodic and sombre voice of Steven Wilson and Tim Bowness and the cinematic landscapes of composers like Thomas Newman and John Barry.

‘Forever Comes to an End’ feature appearances from Airbag’s Henrik Fossum (drums) and Asle Tostrup (programming), Simen Valldal Johannessen from Oak (piano) and Norwegian singer, Sichelle Mcmeo Aksum (vocals).

Norwegian photographer Kjetil Karlsen, has provided the front cover image, taken in beautiful Beisfjord near Narvik in Northern Norway. Design and layout is by Asle Tostrup.

DISCOGRAPHY
“Lullabies in a Car Crash” (CD/VINYL, Karisma Records, 2014)
“Forever Comes to an End” (CD/VINYL, Karisma Records, 2017)

TRACKLIST
1.      Forever Comes to an End
2.      Absence
3.      The Waves
4.      Getaway
5.      Calm
6.      Winter
7.      Where are You Now

Band website: www.bjornriis.com
Label website: www.karismarecords.no