Ruf Records [Release date 28.01.14]
Christina Skjolberg’s ‘Come And Get It’ is the tale of a blonde Norwegian leather clad blues-rock guitarist recording in English under the watchful eye of a Finish producer/guitarist, on a German record label!
Producer Davide Floreno’s day job is as a guitarist and core member of Finnish slide guitarist Erja Lyytinen’s Band (though he doesn’t play on this album). It is presumably this connection that is responsible for incorporating the impressive talents of keyboard player Harri Taittonen and drummer Miri Miettinen who both effectively anchor the album.
Floreno makes a good job of polishing a rough diamond, as Christina’s vocal phrasing is a touch erratic, but her riff driven material shows promise and is given the best possibly context by Floreno’s light touch.
Christina is still finding her way on an album that suggests enough potential for the label to invest in, though the album itself doesn’t quite deliver the material or performance to make it essential. But there are plenty of good moments, from the funky title track to the boogie outro. In between there’s ‘Runaway’, the first of several riff heavy outings, on which her guitar break dominates the track.
‘Close The Door’ is probably the most adventurous and hard hitting track on the album, with certainly the biggest production. It opens with a cheesy sounding Farfisa sounding keyboard, in sharp contrast to her big tone and stellar riffing, as producer Floreno wisely opts to surround her with a big sound that showcases both Christina’s fiery guitar work and Harri’s muscular B3 organ. The track takes on subtle psychedelic edges as she dips into a wah-wah solo bathed in echo to give the track extra punch. If the jury was out from the beginning, it’s this track which helps sway the doubters, for whatever the faults on this album, her sense of adventure triumphs, as the good parts outnumber the bad.
Michael Landau’s ‘Bullett’ is given a dual guitar intro, flanked by cymbal splashes from Miri Niettinen. Christina snarls out the lyrics rock chick style, with verve and a scorching break before a sudden ending
She works hard on her vocals while sensibly opting for variety on the Brynjulf Blix clavinet-led low down funk of ‘Get On’, with nuanced trumpet by Steiner Varnes. It’s another album highlight and seems to give her confidence to tackle the more laid back ‘Moving On’, which is boosted by a sprightly B3 solo from Harri before she belatedly solo’s spiritedly.
Christina cuts loose on ‘Inspiration’ with an all too brief wah-wah break, while ‘Hush’ is a ragged rocker with effective staccato guitar parts, and an expansive organ sweep with an early 70’s vibe, topped by a searing solo from Christina. Sadly, it doesn’t quite deliver what it promises as it chugs along to a languid conclusion.
A version Luther’s Allison’s ‘I’m Back’ is far more interesting. Not the most original choice of covers, it does bring a sense of purpose and direction to the album. It skips along, is full of Christina’s trademark riffs and leads into the opening organ solo before she finally takes off, on a track that finishes all too soon.
For all her guitar flourishes, fiery bursts and spiky riffs, this album is a work in progress. By the end of ‘Come And Get It’, Christina sounds like a musician with plenty of promise who has yet to work out her signature sound. And where an album usually finishes with a defining solo or big outro, she does neither on ‘Nag Blues’. Despite a shimmering guitar tone, big tremolo and whip rack boogie rhythm, the song is compromised by a poor vocal. The final climactic burst comes courtesy of another impressive B3 sweep from Harri, as Christina contents herself on impressive rhythm guitar.
‘Come And Get It’ sounds like an experienced band with a guest guitarist/vocalist, who on balance shows enough promise to suggest a few solid tours could soon help smooth out the rough edges and give her much needed direction. ***
Review by Pete Feenstra
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