Autopsy IV note: A while back I posted a help wanted post on the site in an effort to find some additional (and consistent) contributors. For the time being I am gonna post their posts as guest posts as we nail down and fix the site since the great spam hack of 2011 and as they prove who will be consistent and who’s gonna decide this bloggery isn’t for them.
This post comes from our 9B Norwegian correspondent Rune Letrud. Lemme know what you guys think.
Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to Egil Olsen!
Egil Olsen, singer/songwriter from Ørsta. Egil Olsen from Norway. Egil Olsen, who is too big for China!
Egil Olsen, who easily have made one of the fines albums that this year will bring.
A couple of years ago, when Olsen turned 30, his wife surprised him by getting a number of highly prolific musician friends to play at his big birthday party and they even made a tribute album filled with his wonderful subtle songs.
After only two published records, one’s own tribute album isn’t something that happens to everyone. But then, it’s not just two everyday records he has released to date. I am a singer / songwriter from 2007 and Nothing like the love I have for you from 2009 are both pillars in their own right in any record collection with respect for itself.
The road leading to this album has been long and tortuous for Egil. Right from the days of his first band Uncle Institution, through his solo “success” with songs like “Santa Claus Is Gay” and “Walkie Talk To Me” – before he disillusioned he ended up in Hollywood, where many of the songs on I am a singer / songwriter were written and recorded. Despite the success and critical acclaim he received for Singer/Songwriter and it’s follow-up, Olsen was left far from satisfied.
In his own words:
“I often say that I found myself in Hollywood when I made “I am a singer / songwriter” And I did. I also found love with “Nothing like the love I have for you”. However, still on a high from love and the success with my new album, I felt a great need for more. I was more restless than ever, and found myself daydreaming and trying to escape. Greener grass, etc. To find myself in Hollywood was not enough, so I went back for more “
And found he did. Not only himself but along the way he also found Jonathan “Butch” Norton; former drummer from the Eels as well as session musician for everyone from Rufus Wainwright to Tracy Chapman – not to mention the drummer in Lucinda Williams band.
Together they recorded a batch of songs in the Hobby Shop in LA – before life, again, brought Olsen home to known shores in Norway. Back to Sunnmøre and the phenomenal Ocean Sound Studios at Giske before the album was subsequently completed in Egil Olsen’s own home studio – and here it is in all its glory for us to listen to and treasure.
There is nothing on this album that gets in the way of anything else, everything that enters the soundscape is building up to something concrete in the melody or the text. Some had to actually take their ears to work the day this was screwed together
It’s one thing how the sweet melodies wind their way into the listeners ears and never completely disappear from your head, but his greatest strength is the charmingly naive and at times very direct lyrics he writes. Lyrics that really enhance the product, far above similar albums that I’ve listened to lately.
In most cases he writes about what has happened to him in a way that’s universal enough that you won’t have to have come from the non-urban areas in Norway to feel at home. Take, for instance, the fantastic song “In the middle of Norway”:
“14th of April 1980
I was a brand new born baby
but this seemed like such a lonely place to be
born in the middle of Norway
Cold – gray
Nothing was ever more than ok
in the middle of norway
I’m not that brave, I’m Just Afraid
two give up and go home
get a life and a loan
and get stuck in the middle of Norway “
Another shining example is “Do It Yourself” where Olsen gives us a
broad range of invaluable advice along the way:
“If you’re bored and nothin’ happens
do it yourself
If you perform and nobody’s clappin’
do it yourself”.
We also hear a little about his frustration over living in the capital city of Oslo (where he previously vowed that he would never live) in comparison with his stay in LA where he elegantly boils it all down to the fact that it is easiest to have your home with you in your head all the time, then no matter where you are, you’re always home.
“Location location location
gotta do something soon
but as for now
I’ll just instead
live in my head “
I could go on because this album does not have one single weak moment. Not a weak point. Melodically, production or lyrically. It’s much easier that YOU go out and buy this album. YOU have deserved it, and Egil has deserved it. Even if you don’t like music, just buy it for the fantastic drawings on the cover, also done by Egil Olsen.