Around for a while, this is the Norwegian piano trio’s third album arriving three years on from the release of What Took You So Long, the trio having debuted with You Had Me at Goodbye in 2010. Pianist Eriksen is joined by bassist Lars Tormod Jenset and drummer Andreas Bye, the trio recording compositions of Eriksen’s for this project in an Oslo studio.
Melody and a certain wistfulness are prominent in the style of opener ‘Grounded’. And yes a certain melancholic, or, maybe more to the point, balladic sense prevails, the trio dipping into EST waters a little perhaps although the overall effect is more subdued and steers clear of drawing at least too obviously on any rock borrowings or adding electronics.
The tunes are very pretty with an incredible sensitivity to harmony and mood, but there’s nothing twee or formulaic about what is achieved. Eriksen is adept at creating softly unfolding melodies that allow plenty of room for rhapsody beyond the initial more private meditation, ‘In the Mountains’ for instance managing to merge the personal with a more public range of emotions.
Certainly there is no shortage of tasteful piano trios around. But few I would suggest have quite the subtlety or find so much strength in their own highly convincing material. And for that ‘x’ factor there’s a certain poetry and rippling sense of poise here that the trio somehow know how to shape via group empathy to use to their best advantage, pushing all sorts of emotional buttons.
It’s not all coated in an atmosphere of hush although theirs is quite a gentle sound only disrupted by episodes such as the dramatic arc in intensity rising up on the track ‘Brian’ smashing through the politer moments. More typical of their approach is the haunting quality of the title track where great use is made of the poignant melody, bassist Jenset making a hearty contribution to the success of the piece as he also does, at his most Dan Berglund-like, on the anthemic ‘Cold Front’. Definitely worth discovering.
UK release: 16 October
The fourth track of Never Ending January, ‘Gravity’, is above