Review: Magnus Berg – Cut Me Loose

Posted on: Thursday, Jan 29, 2015

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Magnus Berg – Cut Me Loose

(Screen Door Records)

Magnus first got his hands on a guitar at the age of seven when his grandfather made one for him, this was in 2003 and by the age of 12 he was performing on stage. A few short years later at the age of 17 he had appeared on the stage of Buddy Guy’s blues club Legends in Chicago. One of his main early guitar playing influences was Angus Young the lead guitarist of AC/DC, this particular interest of guitar playing styles in turn led him into the logical tracing of the origins of that indefinable gut feeling style of guitar work.

As he pursued his own career in the blues clubs of his native home country, Norway; visiting American musicians made a mental note to keep more than one eye upon this young man’s progression in the blues world but, it was while accompanying his parents on one of their various trips to America that he had one particularly fortuitous opportunity to tread the boards and it was during a trip to Florida in 2012 that he was found to be jamming with Mike Zito in a Florida blues club, that also had Kirsten Thien in attendance.

She was so fascinated and taken by this young man that after their initial meeting not only was a friendship struck but, also a burgeoning writing and playing partnership evolved, which saw Magnus installed as part of her live band. So, to date Magnus has managed to balance his academic studies with playing in both Kirsten’s band and recording with his own band. On the recommendation of Kirsten, Magnus signed to her label and with Erik Boyd in the producer’s chair his debut album was recorded.

Joining Magnus; guitars and vocals, we have in no particular order, Bjorn “Daffy” Larsen; harmonica, Harvard Sunde; drums and Roy Oscar Pettersen; bass, together they have produced a fine collection of ten numbers, five of which are Berg originals. It is highly evident in Magnus’s guitarwork that the early seventies stridently aggressive and heavy rock approach is firmly entrenched in his playing D.N.A. Contrary to what you may think, this embedded feel is most certainly an advantage; for it solidifies the sound splendidly, especially so, on the sparkling Kirsten and Magnus composed early Sun Label influenced “One Way To Please You,” his rocking, urging rockabilly playing is almost frantic as he eagerly duels to the finish with the breathless, wailing and steamrollering harmonica and that is only the second number in.

Once again the harmonica and guitar are at each other’s musical throats on the tramping and swaying Chicago drenched “Drifting,” the guitar solos burn, wail and plead at breakneck speed. We have a change of pace with “When You Leave Me.” a slowburning slide moans and mourns as a dour harmonica wheezes in commiseration over the top of traipsing percussion.

Jim Jackson’s “Kansas City Blues,” continues the gentler pace with a breezy harmonica sliding in and out as burnished, burred guitar interplays with a gently rolling, glass tinkling piano. On the Magnus, Erik Boyd and Kirsten collaboration “When It’s Gone,” a molasses thick, summery and breezy slide guitar emotionally drives along underneath, Kirsten’s gentle, tender and intimate flowing vocals.

Very fine indeed!

BRIAN HARMAN

www.magnusbergmusic.com

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