The Phantom Tollbooth

At Your Front Door
Artist: Rune Edvardsen
Label: Prima Music
Time: 46:52; 11 tracks.

Based on personal excursions to foreign countries, or rumors of others's overseas experiences, you could conclude that not every country on this little planet is quite as contemporary as England and the United States when it comes to musical tastes.  Japan, for example, was stuck in the Fifties for some time which accounted for the Stray Cats's wild popularity there.  Parts of Europe still need to be weaned off of Abba, Roxette and a number of forgettable heavy metal bands.  This strange time-warp phenomenon must be partly responsible for the overall sound of Rune Edvardsen's 1996 offering, At Your Front Door.  It is unclear from the liner notes which country he hails from, but he appears to be Sweden's answer to Eighties Petra.  There are abundant comparisons including the overall tenor of the musical arrangements and the rudimentary lyrical focus.

Rune Edvardsen, himself, has a great rough rock and roll voice that sounds like a combination of John Schlitt of Petra and what's-his-name from the Scorpions.  His pleasant voice is presumably among the reasons he is doing what he does, as his guitar work is neither embarrassing nor overly noteworthy. Additionally, his back-up band is neither remarkable nor schlocky. They've successfully helped to create a mix of ballads and mid-tempo pop-rockers that seem right at home on last decade's radio.  Bryan Adams also comes to mind.  Some of the keyboard bits are fun in a "reminiscing sort of way," and the harmonies on the album are very tasteful.  Splashes of saxophone are under utilized.

At Your Front Door is weak on the lyrical side, which may be partly the unfortunate result of translating them into English. The messages focusing on Jesus' grace, however, are delivered with an enthusiastic, heart-felt honesty that shows Edvardsen is clearly compelled to communicate his desire to serve "He who gave us the music and life eternal as a gift."

        Against the wall, feeling so strange
        Needed help, his whole life had to change
        Crying out, all the pain he had inside
        He made a decision and his choice was right.

        Jesus do you care for me?
        Would you give a lost soul a little sympathy
        Jesus come inside of me
        Please, please won't you set me free.
        (From "Do You Care?")

If you just haven't had enough of this brand of pleasant, Petra-ish, Eighties pop rock, than Rune Edvardsen may be for you.  He is probably quite popular in his native land. He should be.  Whenever someone can make the messages of our Lord and Savior relevant to his or her culture, it is cause for celebration. These simple, sincere messages of hope, repentance and second chances deserve an audience.  Especially if you don't mind the time-warp.

By Steven Stuart Baldwin (8/14/98)