After hearing Bernhoft light up the stage at this years Scandinavian Soul Music Awards (see pictures here), I was really looking forward to hearing what would come next for the coolest cat in glasses and the cravat! What is clear on his first release since 2014’s Islander, is that his playfulness, musical dexterity and way with subtle, relatable lyrics remain in full effect.
The new 5 track E.P., Stop / Shutup / Shout It Out, heralds a seriously soulful addition to his catalogue.
It seems that the Scandinavian Soul Music Award 2015 winner’s return to Norway has helped him tap deeper into the organic soul soil emanating from that part of the Nordic region.
Opening up with Stop/Shut Up, Bernhoft hits his melodic soul/pop stride with an uptempo ode to leaving your worries aside and embracing the joys of sharing life in the moment. Musically the track features tinges of Mayer Hawthorne, Chicago and Average White Band in the mix, with Bernhoft’s vocals and harmonising (with himself) exuding the warmth of 70s & 80s AOR at it’s melodic and joyous best.
Writing on the Wall, with Bernhoft’s guitar intro, sees his defiant vocals wrap themselves around a sublime slice of funky soul that has sassiness for days! In a world of immediately available and sometimes forgettable music, the track is impossible to skip past……go on…I DARE YOU TO TRY!! It is that good.
When he yearns the lines… ‘You know how to rile me up, I’ll give you that much, There’s way more to me, than will ever meet your eye!’ you understand that confrontation has rarely sounded so sweet. The feeling is pure Sly & The Family Stone, and wears it’s message of missing what is in front of you like a beacon to guide you through the storm.
Reducing the tempo, Falter, hits an atmospheric stride, and is a sing-along anthem of stadium proportions.
The track sees Bernhoft at his vulnerable, yearning and inspirational best.
More sonnet than song, the poetry in the lyrics is matched by the intensity of the feeling he brings to his vocals. In every syllable you believe he knows the feeling of losing your grip on your anchor, the thing that keeps you grounded, safe and secure. When he sings ‘When I falter It’s Getting Darker, I Go Missing Like I Lose Myself,’ he taps into the vulnerable side of our psyche and connects directly with us. I understood.
Whilst Patience Revisited has floated around my earlobes for the last few months, its inclusion on the E.P. breathes fresh life into it.
The track oozes sophistication, heart and raw desperate emotion, and has the loosest arrangement of all of the tracks on the E.P. that only enhances the live feeling. This is another track about connection with the audience, with the pain and desperation borne out in his plea ‘Come back home baby, Words that should’ve never been said came undone, Please, come back home baby, I said it it’s gone, I said it it’s gone, I can’t take it back, Come Back Home Baby, oh I shoulda shut it when my eloquence was all gone.’ We’ve all been there. Don’t act like it’s just me!!
I’m not sure whether it is the untimely passing of Prince, but I hear the same exuberance and confidence in the craft, in the emotion of this track. The inspiration here seems tangible in the interplay of the baseline that pulsates in your chest, Bernhoft’s falsetto yearnings that soothe like eucalyptus, a gorgeous melody and the addition of a gut-wrenching guitar solo.
File this under essential.
The track that closes out the E.P. is the fierce and fun number H/M/S, that focuses on the need to keep pushing on, in that inimitable style that Bernhoft seems so at ease with.
The track drives along at a frenetic pace, and weaves spoken elements, electronic stabs and a quirky staccato beat into its form, which places this entry into foot to the floor territory. This is a track to lose yourself in wild abandon.
Each track on the E.P. is lovingly crafted and has to be listened to in the way music was meant to be consumed; with time and repeated listens.
It has been a joy to repeatedly listen back to each track to draw out the treasures hidden within, be it to better understand a misunderstood lyric, to hear a serene hook again, or to simply soak up the heavenly vibrations as the sun is going down, as I did writing this review.
This release is a fully focussed EP of confident conviction, from a bonafide star. You need this in your life and love.
Itunes: iTunes: https://itun.es/se/LEZ-bb