Norwegian musicians have for years traveled to Nashville to record music. The thing is, if you record crap, it doesn’t really matter where you record it. But off course it’s cool to say that you recorded your album in Nashville. To Norwegians, at least it was cool to say that.
Bendik Brænne is a fantastic saxophoneplayer, who’s backed a lot of the good norwegian bands out on the road. ORBO & Longshots, Nora Noor and as a steady member of Amund Maaruds band, he’s let his saxophone give depth to the music.
Through ORBO he met Nashville-based Erick Jaskowiak, who owns a studio Nashville, were ORBO have recorded all his good albums. When Brænne contemplated recording his debut-album, he wanted to do it far away from Norway – where he could find inspiration from other than his usual collaborators. He went to Nashville, and to Erick Jaskowiak.
I can feel you out there, protesting. Saying “wait! Did he say saxophone? Is this another easy-listening album that mad norwegian is trying to pitch? Do we need to break out our Homer Simpson-voices and start shouting “Saxomophoooone… saxomophoooone”?”.
No. You do not. That was my first guess when I heard about this album, and I could not have been more wrong.
Bendik Brænne has gathered inspiration from all the best bits of Americana, and made one of the best albums I’ve heard in a long while. It’s title “How To Fake It In America” could not have been more wrong. This is not faking it at all, this is real and it feels so good!
Jaskowiak rustled up seasoned players to back him, and fabulous musicians Fats Kaplin, Tim Marks, Rob McNelly and Bryan Owings bring this into another league. He’s also done some touch-ups at home, getting Amund Maarud to play guitar, and the wonderful Lasse Hafreager to play the organ. And did I mention Bobby Keys plays on this album? More on that later…
The songs do at times remind me of Teiturs first album “Poetry and Aeroplanes”, at other times he mixes The Band with the quieter songs from Drive-By Truckers – and totally gets away with it.
Some songs sound like they could have been pulled from Jason Isbell’s “Live from Alabama”, others could be close cousins of the mighty Drive-By Truckers “Everybody Needs Love”.
Fats Kaplin plays the pedal- and lap-steel like there’s no tomorrow, and he rocks that fiddle when he gets the chance. He channels Ryan Adams, and then he takes us all to New Orleans on the albums best track “Orange St.”.
And the grand finale totally belongs to Bobby Keys.
The reason Brænne started playing saxophone (which he plays some on this album, naturally, along with piano), after hearing Bobby Keys playing with The Rolling Stones.
One evening in Nashville, while hanging out with Jaskowiak – they met a woman who know someone who knew someone who… well, you get the idea. She sent out an email, which via yet others found Bobby Keys. He was impressed by his long time fan from Norway, coming all the way to Nashville to record his album. And he volunteered to play on it.
The problem was, Brænne didn’t have any songs to suit an rock’n’roll saxophone-player. The album was low-key country, and that just wouldn’t cut it.
So he stayed up all night, writing “Turn My Way” – especially for Bobby Keys. And it turned out to be one hell of a jam between Brænne and the magnificent Bobby Keys.
If this is how Norwegians fake it in America, I say well done! I love it!