Cable Car Records– [Release Date: 29.11.13]
‘Night Train To Budapest’ places the emphasis squarely on Henrik’s fast maturing song writing, his love of wholesome grooves and array of aching guitar tones.
He’s a one man crusade – he plays all the instruments expect for Moritz Fuhrhop’s keyboards – and looks deep inside himself for lyrical meaning and guitar led inspiration. The album provides both, on a series of mid-tempo outings on which his guitar playing blends in with nuanced bv’s, on 11 tracks that smoulder and occasionally spark
In many ways Henrik’s music was always thus, but ‘Night Train To Budapest’ is more of an album pregnant with lyrical reflection, contrasting musical moods and intricate guitar patterns that colour his ever expansive musical palate. There’s rock, blues – though not necessarily together – funk, soul and virtuoso playing, except for his brusque drumming.
The album opens with the riff driven and close to the mic vocals of ‘Point Of View’ and a climactic, defining guitar break on ‘Everything Is Gone’. But neither track is really indicative of an album which digs deep for its soul, and comes to rest on a Robin Trower style drone of ‘Your Loving Was So Good’.
The balledic ‘Caroline’ tries too hard for MOR appeal, while ‘Thinking About You’ is more convincing, simply because of the pristine vocals and the way it bubbles up and works its way towards a definitive uplifting guitar break, with some delicate use of controlled sustain.
Both songs sandwich the spiky riffed intro and harmony vocals of the beguiling ‘Better Man’, which is closer to the prevailing mood of the album.
At roughly the half way point you could have forgiven him for a heavy duty shuffle or out and out rocker. And to that end, the stop-start ‘Down The Road’ is a suitable compromise of sorts. It’s a slow burner that eventually draws you in, as it evolves from a bluesy beginning into an undulating groove, via angelic backing harmonies and a mid-section shred and a psychedelic tinged eastern guitar tone.
He revisits the latter after another big push on the chorus of ‘Shame’ and appears happiest when leaning into subtle guitar dominated pieces that allow him to explore mesmerising tonal colours and layered sounds.
You can imagine Henrik painstakingly building the tracks, layer by layer, while working on his tones, and gluing together the pieces of his unique musical jigsaw. That doesn’t always necessarily make for an organic end product, but ultimately his guitar playing does all his talking for him. Outside of the ballads, his mode of song writing is characterised by expansive tempo changing hooks and evolving guitar parts that suddenly lift a song to another level.
There’s plenty of room for riffs as on the funky ‘A Better Man’, which places equal emphasis on Steely Dan and Doobies style harmony vocals, while ‘Gimme All You Got’ is a stand out muscular rocker with some searing lead and frantic drumming.
The funky ‘This Ain’t Love’ relies on potent harmony vocals to offset his own faltering vocal efforts and he ultimately gets out of jail with an uplifting guitar solo and a beautiful arc of a sustained note over a bubbly funky rhythm track.
He sounds happiest when exploring his exquisite touch and tone on the wistful lyrics of the slightly over extended, Peter Green influenced ‘My Woman’: ‘Cos My heart longs for adventure, my soul for security, and these questions on my mind, seem to be my only company’.
‘Night Train To Budapest’ is lit by a slow burning fuse, as Henrik methodically works his way through a handful of relationship songs, to give them their essential feel with guitar playing that subtly switches from soaring lead to choppy rhythm patterns, floating notes, a wide range of tones and back to defining solos.
Influenced by Peter Green and Roy Buchanan and inspired by Gary Moore, Henrik dips into the past but always looks to the future with a guitar driven album with a difference.
Review by Pete Feenstra
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