Sondre Lerche is perhaps one of the most musically fascinating and versatile singers to emerge in the last decade. Between his first record Faces Down (2002) and its followup Two-Way Monologue (2004), his stylistic instrumentation and musical arrangements coupled with his interesting lyrical phrasing made him so intriguing to listen to. He completely changed it up by going to two extremes for his next two records, doing a complete smooth jazz album Duper Sessions (2006) followed immediately by a grungy rock record with Phantom Punch (2007), both of which actually worked. Next up came the score for the Steve Carell movie Dan In Real Life (2007) before returning to the more alluring sound of his debut Heartbeat Radio (2009).
On his 6th studio record, which is self-titled, Sondre takes a much more natural, stripped down approach to recording. This album is the closest he comes to the charm of Two-Way Monologue but it isn’t nearly as enticing. There are aspects of the songs that are reminiscent of his earlier periods such as the musical instrumentation that finishes off Tied Up To The Tide. The chorus of Red Flags, “I saw you on the roof tonight” is reminiscent of the imagery of lonely romanticism from On The Tower: “meet me halfway by the bedrock on the tower.” The first single Private Caller sounds like an attempt at recreating a single-worthy equivalent to the song Two-Way Monologue but isn’t quite as memorable.
Sondre recorded this album in New York, where he has been living for most of the last six years, and thus likely invited in the influences of the city. Unfortunately, this meant removing the influences of the earlier sounds that made him one of music’s most alluring recording artists. Vocally, he sounds as good as he ever did, occasionally throwing in some falsetto with ease, as he conveys the point of his lyrics wonderfully. The songs capture his less than subtle ideas as both music and lyric are to the point. Different than his past efforts but purposefully done.
Sondre’s strengths are always evident in his recordings in one way or another but there are certain areas in which he excels at that are mostly missing from this album. Attempting to recreate past magic is rarely ever a good thing for an artist but with this record it doesn’t feel like there is any advancement so listening to Sondre Lerche feels more like a yearning for what isn’t there rather than an appreciation for what is.
2. Private Caller
3. Red Flags
4. Go Right Ahead
5. Coliseum Town
6. Nevermind The Typos
8. Living Dangerously
9. Tied Up To The Tide
10. When The River