HÅKON HØYE – Nights At The Surf Motel

Big H 2019

Norwegian guitar slinger in the lyrical place of his reverie… or pretends to, as there’s too much fun to be had.

HÅKON HØYE –
Nights At The Surf Motel

Although it’s been about a couple decades since Håkon Høye seriously started plying his trade, his solo path is stricken with humor, and “Nights At The Surf Motel” is a prime example of the artist’s method. Whatever romantic notions one may get from an album title like this, all of them will be shattered right away – on both sonic and concept levels – once “Junkyard Of Dreams” ushers in a bluesy shuffle, with Høye’s six strings dancing around cheerful piano towards a catchy chorus which should have the listener join in for a singalong. Such infectiousness wouldn’t leave the frame even when “Stay Awhile” seems to be languishing in its country haze, yet “Good Thing” sets respite against social criticism, and the instrumental component of “Time Will Tell” simmers rather gloomily – so much for lyrical stakes and the twine of acoustic and electric layers.

With swelling bass and sax to fuel “Sweet Sugar You” and “One Floor Down” and to further facilitate the overall rumble, there’s hardly an unemotional moment in sight, as the artist has thrown his Scandinavian reserve out the window and is keeping his cool on the likes of “My Darkest Hour” via carefully controlled licks. If “Wastin’ Time With You” reveals the influence of jazz on Håkon’s playing, the anticipated twang makes its first appearance on “You Must Believe Me” where his grip on classic R’n’B couldn’t be stronger, but the vibrant title track – a perfect nocturnal piece from the Peter Green school of heartbreak – brings this sound into focus. That’s how romanticism must be served: with a smile.

****2/3

March 12, 2020

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