Slightly melancholy, wonderfully melodic and irresistibly hooky without being musically trite, I'm So Glad easily gets under your skin in the best of ways
I'm So Glad
Sounds Familyre / Secretly Canadian
11 tracks / 36:28 minutes
What a refreshing surprise I'm So Glad is – the unpretentious yet sophisticated album by Norway's Jorn Aleskjaer is a sonic trip back in time to the early days of the Jesus Music boom, when groups essentially brought nothing but some songs and a band of musicians into the studio to record their music. Aside from some wah-wah pedal effects for the guitar, the music is basically driven by electric piano, bass, and drums with no filtering, no synths, no programming, and no trendy production tricks – at least that's the way it sounds to these ears.
Relatively unknown in the United States, Jorn (forgive the lack of little dots and other strange little punctuations, my Norwegian friends) has been creating and performing music in his native land for about two decades and has released four studio albums with the indie pop outfit The Loch Nes Monster – this is his first solo project.
Despite the album's title, Aleskjaer's I'm So Glad shows influences closer to Todd Rundgren, Beach Boys, Biff Rose and Julian Lennon than to Cream. The songs are personal, melodic, somewhat 'poppish' but with a definite (if subtle) jazzy vibe. There's a very real intimacy about the project, even when the occasional horn or string section is added. The messages are simple, with an undercurrent of thankfulness and appreciation of life, and occasional references to a Christian faith that are so naturally stated that they seem to appear as a lyrical after-taste. Slightly melancholy, wonderfully melodic and irresistibly hooky without being musically trite, I'm So Glad easily gets under your skin in the best of ways.
Aleskjaer's slight accent and occasionally awkward turn-of-phrase comes off as charming and a part of the over-all homemade sound of the album. This is not to say that the project sounds amateurish – instead it's music without pretensions, or maybe it's better put by the artist himself when, on "About to Go," he sings, "music is a diamond kept in a plastic bag."
At just over a half-hour, listening to I'm So Glad is very much a nostalgic experience – hearkening back to the days when an artist or a band collected enough good songs to fill up just about that amount of time on a good old vinyl album – give or take ten minutes or so. Jorn Aleskjaer has given us some diamonds in this plastic bag – and I'm so glad he did.