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coverpic flag Norway - Full Moon 61 - 10/02/01

Haakon
Minstrel
Perfect Pop Records/Tuba!

Haakon Ellingsen used to be a member of on-off project Last James (who released three pop-oriented records during the nineties) and The Gramophones (one album in 1997), but this is his first album under his own name. With these records, he has already proven a songsmith with a ear for good melodies, so I was quite curious and excited on hearing this record.

Minstrel is jam packed with mostly quiet, folky and pleasantly orchestrated songs. The opening track Jenny Kissed Me is a perfect start, accoustic guitars, lush strings and flute. A song for late August 1971, perhaps? It's the quiet songs that works best here, rocking out is not Haakon's force, and Too Much Hello Goodbye is a proof of the latter. But at the same time it is a link from this record via its producer Kyrre Fritzner to the title track on Neste Sommer (Next Summer) by DeLillos (also produced by Fritzner). Just listen to that bass guitar!

The music is not a million miles from the music of Finn Coren (check our archives), another Norwegian musician with a fondness for most things English. Tracks like Something To Believe In and Boy could have been lifted straight off Coren's wonderful Spring - The Blake Project. Yes, pleasant this record may be, but I feel it lacks the nerve and to some extent, the melodies. Alas, I'm not too comfortable with Haakon's voice (as I often am with Norwegians singing in English), it is not 'soft' enough for this music, so it's a nice change when Maria Moe helps out on a handful of the songs.

Not top-notch for Haakon with this album, but if you are fond of late sixties/early seventies English whimsy: Nirvana, Kaleidoscope, The Trees (as I guess Haakon is too), you could do worse than checking out this album. At Perfect Pop you can listen to some of the songs first as well.

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