CD Review – Blackwood by Bjorn Berge
‘Blackwood’ is an album that has a foot in many camps. It is a folk album, but it contains elements of chillout, ambient, blues and jazz in a combination that makes it both easily accessible and also offers more on repeated listening.
Bjorn Berge is a talented acoustic guitarist, both 6 and 12 string, banjo player and song-writer with a deep, care-worn voice that is part John Martyn. In fact, the album owes something of a debt to the much missed Scottish songwriter, both in terms of construction, and their guitar styles that are both graceful, virtuosic, and supportive to the song.
Most of the songs are originals, but there are two very well chosen covers. Joni Mitchell’s ‘Woodstock’ is a version with a deep tenor vocal lead performance, and atmospheric guitar part, much removed from the version by Matthew’s Southern Comfort, with which a lot of people are familiar. Sleepy John Estes ‘Going to Brownsville’ is a brooding, low key treatment, with tapping feet providing the percussive accompaniment. The rest of the album is all original, and ranges from the banjo infused ‘In and out’ to the instrumental title track, which is full of virtuoso passages, as well as production tricks that help to push the piece along. All in all, this is a fine release, and it is well worth a listen for fans of acoustic folk music, which alludes to traditional practices, but presents those self same ideas in a modern, and attractive package.