What's one of the biggest preconceptions ageing audiophiles drag in their tattered shadows? That all they listen to is female Jazz vocalists, the sexier in the flesh the better. Depending on the year, there'll be different names detractors point to as the over-played, musically undernourished hate object du jour.
Norwegian super star Kari Bremnes' Norwegian Mood might eventually gain this questionable status if audiophiles, en masse like lemmings, took the trouble to obtain this album and push it on every future CES demo imaginable. Until then, bookmark this release -- one of the few if not the only that has Kari sing in English -- as the quintessential audiophile wet dream of the new super-duper demo record. Everything aligns - production values, sound quality, compositional weight, instrumentation, arrangements, vocal glories, sophistication of delivery - and, may I add, the ubiquitous in-the-flesh beauty, too.
In a way, I don't want to give away too much here to prevent the above scenario. What to say, what to leave out? Okay, here goes: We ain't talking Jazz, exactly - more an ECM Garbarek/Brahem Visible World/Pas du Chat Noir focus on stark atmospheres, moody spaciousness in accord with the craggy windswept coast lines of Norway, sea gulls on the wing, hidden coves, fishermen returning home from their nightly sojourns, lovers sailing off to the outer posts to return or not. These songs embody the kind of unfocused, far-reaching gaze of boat people used to endless horizons - mysterious, dreamy, unmoored.
What to leave out? All the good stuff you should discover for yourself. With a harmless grin, let's just add that the well-hated "unholy trinity" of Patricia Barber, Diana Krall and Rebecca Pigeon just fleshed out and gained a new corner in Kari Bremnes. And unless you overplayed Mood to hollow its magic, this Norwegian lady might just become your new flame for now and later, until the fickleness of fate intervenes and presents a new contender to the temporary throne of popular applause. As for me? I intend to treat Kari with the respect she deserves and only visit her Copenhagen haunt just often enough to lust for more the next visit 'round...