After one listen to this potent album, you will probably be wondering why you have never heard of Thorbjorn Risager. Once you do some research, you will find that this is his tenth release in the last decade. And then you will start playing Too Many Roads again, this time turning up the volume to get the full effect.
What you hear is a crack band playing a swirling mix of musical styles and everything held together by the deep, muscular vocals of their dynamic Danish leader. Listen to how easily Risager commands your attention while the band rages behind him on “If You Wanna Leave,’ drummer Martin Seidlin pounding the beat, horns wailing away over crunching guitar chords. Risager stands tall right in the middle, his voice a beacon in the midst of the musical mayhem.
The title track finds the leader and Peter Skjerning mixing acoustic and electric guitars to great effect. “Paradise” has Risager accompanied by acoustic guitar to start. But then the band kicks in with a slinky groove created by percussion playing off the potent horn section, comprised of Hans Nybo on tenor sax, Peter W. Keil on trumpet, flugelhorn, trombone and sousaphone plus Kasper Wagner on a variety of saxophones and clarinet. “Drowning” shifts to a Tom Waits-like landscape before the group gets mean & evil on “Backseat Driver,” pushed along by a thundering bass line from Soren Bojgaard.
“Rich Man” glides along on a New Orleans second line rhythm before Emil Balsgaard lights up his piano keyboard on the frantic boogie “Play On’. The band cranks it up on “High Rolling,” showing that they are ready to take over whenever the Stones decide to hang it up! “Red, Hot & Blue” has a quirky, danceable pace initiated by chopped guitar chords. Risager’s finest moment takes place on “Through the Tears,” his voice filled with the raw hurt of a man unable to overcome a broken heart. It is a truly mesmerizing performance finished off with guitar coda.
Thorbjorn Risager & the Black Tornado are the real deal. They use blues as one of the starting points for their potent sound but keep things interesting with intricate arrangements and lots of energy. The secret weapon is the staying power of Risager’s vocal offerings. Rest assured that you will give this one plenty of play time on your favorite playback system!