Sunday, June 25, 2017

Thorbjørn Risager & The Black Tornado - Change My Game

Thorbjørn Risager & The Black Tornado
Change My Game
2017 – Ruf Records

By Phillip Smith; June 25, 2017

It’s been almost three years since I reviewed Thorbjørn Risager’s award winning studio album, Too Many RoadsI loved that album.  His latest release, Change My Game is just as tight and sophisticated.  With Risager front and center on vocals and guitar, The Black Tornado consists of pianist/organist Emil Balsgaard, guitarist Peter Skjerning, tenor saxophonist Kasper Wagner, saxophonist Hans Nybo, trumpet player Peter Kehl, bassist Søren Bøjgaard, and drummer Martin Seidelin.  As this tight-knit band from Copenhagen puts it, “Change My Game” is not just an album title, but also the guiding ethos that has driven this band from the start. 

Risager’s vocals on “I Used to Love You” are suave and debonair. They sound great sitting in the mellow dreamlike atmosphere of reminiscence which the Black Tornado beautifully conjures up.  “Dreamland” is contagious from the beginning; I love its callback to Eighties soul-rock.  Skjerning delivers up some killer guitar riffs which play very nicely with the big full keyboard sounds from Balsgaard.

Like a moth to the flame, I’m quite drawn to the swampy blues of “Holler ‘N’ Moan”.  Saturated with nice and greasy slide guitar, and sung with conviction, this track feels so good to listen to.  There’s a sweet heaviness to the way Risager sings “Lay My Burdon Down”.  He magnificently paints this one in a gloomy melancholy light.  Risager closes with a masterpiece called “City of Love”.  In a musical sleight of hand, he inventively shapes this one from a Texas blues boogie into a mind-blowing, psychedelic treat complete with horns and swirling keys.

Thorbjørn Risager & The Black Tornado have scored big again, continuing their tradition of excellence in music with Change My Game.  Like a big, juicy steak, this is music one can delightfully sink their teeth into.  


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