Norway’s hardest working rock’n’roll band is called ORBO & The Longshots.
For years they have toured Norway extensively, all the while working to break onto the American music scene, playing several tours across the US. They are among the few bands in Norway who are able to make a living from playing honest rock’n’roll.
“ORBO” are the initials of lead singer, guitarist and songwriter Ole Reinert Berg-Olsen, The Longshots are his band, consisting of Ine Tumyr on vocals & percussion, Reidar Opdal on vocals, piano/organ and acoustic guitar, Paul Inge Vikingstad on bass and Stian Tumyr on drums.
ORBO & The Longshots were the first norwegian band to record in legendary Sun Studios in Memphis, and have gotten help from people like Claudia Scott, Kevin Welch and Mike Henderson on their previous albums.
After five studio albums and one live album, they released Prairie Sun in Norway in the middle of august – and now it’s available in the US.
Prairie Sun was recorded at the old turkey farm Prairie Sun Recording Studios in California and produced by ORBO. And let me tell you, this is one kick-ass record.
Equal parts heartland rock, country, blues and americana, with a hint of dixieland are melted into a sound that borrows from Tom Petty, John Mellencamp and Delbert McClinton. McClinton was so impressed by a duet he did with ORBO at a show in Bergen, Norway that they ended up recording a song together, “Little Queen” which is a bonus track when you buy the album on iTunes.
What sets ORBO apart from most Norwegian singers and songwriters is his voice and his pronunciation. He sounds like a well spoken American, and he even writes songs like he should have lived all his life in and around Austin. His guitar playing is another trait that really sets their sound apart, and combined with Reidar Opdals piano they got a unique groove.
As I mentioned, this is their fifth album, and it’s their best one yet. I’ve been a fan since the first album, following their sound from being a rocking country band into the bluesy americana sound they have now.
What really sets this album apart from the previous are mainly the songs and the lyrics. ORBO has grown a lot as a songwriter, and he’s not afraid to write about his life. The band has gotten a lot of experience from intensive touring and hundreds of gigs, and you can really hear it by how tight they sound.
Singer and percussionist Ine Tumyr also stands out on this album, taking a long step forward and into the spotlight. We’ve seen it live for years, but on record she’s never been as prolific as she is now. The duets she sings with ORBO on this album are among the best songs they have ever done, and the way the two main vocalists work together throughout the album lifts the sound.
The best example is the song “High Grass Dog”, where ORBO and Ine keeps changing vocal lines between them, and it seems it makes ORBO give that little bit extra to really push the song into a higher division.
Another great example is the song “Magic”, where most of us can find recognizable elements. Love, breakups and insecurity are key elements, and the intensity in the song really shows of ORBOs quality as a songwriter. And what really singles this song out is Ine Tumyrs contribution on vocals.
“We’ve been feeding off of this long enough,
couldn’t see a thing.
But I guess the magic came to an end.
I keep my dreams all to myself,
’cause I’m scared.
I’m watching windows close,
and doors slam shut behind me.
while magic takes my chance”
ORBOs love for Tom Petty is obvious through the song (and new single) “Nights Don’t Belong To Us” about how you suddenly come to realize you have grown up – and have to let younger souls take over your place by the bar or on the town. And the delicious guitar parts could just as well have been played by Mike Campbell. The imagery is brilliant, just listen when ORBO sings:
“Stallions don’t lock the stable door,
but they can’t ride me anymore”.
Another high point on the album is “Neon Scar”, where ORBO writes about the lifestyle of being a musician and going out on the road.
“I’ve got a drumbeat baby,
I’ve got a loud guitar,
I’ve got a restless heart,
with a neon scar”
There are two songs I don’t really care for, the dixiland infused “New Times”, and “All Kinds Of Blue”. I usually don’t go for horns in music, unless it’s something Delbert McClinton has recorded – and here it just gets too much. Too bad, as “New Times” is one of the strongest tunes on the album, when you remove the clarinet…
Thankfully the album kicks right into top gear after those two songs, and gives us the brilliant “Crystal Ball” – which could have been lifted straight from Tom Pettys “Wildflowers”. We get a nod towards The Eagles on “Word On The Street” and a delicious feel of the prairie on “Prairie Sun”.
This is the best norwegian album of 2011, and in February ORBO & The Longshots hits the bars and clubs of America once again. If they pass by your town, drop by and give them a chance. I doubt you will be disappointed…