woensdag 6 februari 2019

Always All Around You. Norman Salant

Yes, there are records in which nothing much appears to be happening, yet are extremely pleasant to listen to. Always All Around You is one of those records. An acoustic guitar, bass, drums, organ and piano here and there and a few ladies singing oohs and ahhs between the mildly gravely voice of Norman Salant.

He turns out to be a saxophonist of decades in the more avant garde section of music who reinvented himself as a singer-songwriter. After 'Yodeling Goodbye' released early in in 2018 in December of last year he released his second album already.

Each song comes with a story Salant tells through the lyrics. This is part of the charm of Always All Around You. In the case of the album title it is cows "that are always all around at the end of the world". The other part is the keen eye for small details and the melodic prowess of his compositions. The details? Take 'The World's Greatest Lover'. Listening to it and you will find just one note accented by horns. Just one. Later in the song a very smooth sounding saxophone returns, with a second harmonising later on. Yes, the song is as smooth as some as Paul Simon's solo work, but just about as interesting.

Promo photo: Neil Wilka
Another artist I am able to point to here is the more unknown Steve Waitt. 'Feels Like Rain' could easily be on one of his albums. It is also one of the better songs on this album. It has an ever so little edge to it. A small hint at danger that other songs do not have on Always All Around You. A sense of urgency is incorporated into the music making 'Feels Like Rain' a really good song.

"When Grace is on the radio, let her go", Salant sings in 'Grace (Love Song 25)'. I'm instantly thinking of Jeff Buckley. His only album 'Grace' is 25 years old this year. Where does time go? Salant's song is small, modest, with an organ sound that mimes the intro of Buckley's 'Lover, You Should've Come Over'. Everything 'Grace' is not. Salant is not afraid to let the song do the hard work and not the musicians or the loudness. 'Grace (Love Song 25)' manages well as it is.

If there is a complaint to file with Mr. Salant it is that his album takes just a little too long to end. Not because the individual songs are less interesting or of lesser quality, no, it is the overall sound and tempo that drags the whole slightly down in the final songs. A little more variation would have been preferable. Like 'The Whole Wide World' is a little more up tempo and sharp.

Promo photo: Nina Rosenblatt
The seventh song should have been the closing one. The singing of The Civil Warriors at the end of 'The Civil War' would have been a perfect ending; to a beautiful song, to the album. It isn't and that stokes up my feeling in the lines right above here. The late Norwegian singer St. Thomas (Thomas Hansen) did better on his album 'I'm Coming Home' with his choir.

Overall Norman Salant has presented a nice album to the world. An album filled with 10 extremely pleasant singer-songwriter songs very much worth while listening to which I've been doing regularly over the past weeks.


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