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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, Marc Bridle, John Eyles, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke

At first light
EmArcy 0147 48 2


    1. There’s Always a First Time
    2. Be Still My Heart
    3. Let There be Love
    4. So Sorry for Your Love
    5. Now and Then
    6. Two Sleepy People
    7. Keep on Backing Losers
    8. Blame it on the Sun
    9. At First Light
    10. There’s Trouble brewing
    11. Japanese Blue
    12. Lullaby to Erle

Silje Nergaard – Vocal
Tord Gustavsen – Piano
Harald Johnson – Bass
Jarle Vespestad – Drums
Magnus Lindgren – Tenor
Various other musicians are used on individual tracks, as are The Stockholm Session Strings.

Sije Nergaard was a new artist to me, although her first album was released in 1990 entitled ‘Tell Me Where you are Going’. She released further albums in 93, 95 and 96 although the majority of these were not aimed at the UK market, some were sung in her native Norwegian language.

Silje is a singer songwriter of considerable talent and Mick McGurk, who writes the lyrics, is equally talented. Silje reminds me of Blossom Dearie; her voice has some of the ‘little girl lost’ quality that you hear in Dearie’s performances. There is also some of the cutting edge phrasing of Nina Simone, together with a large chunk of pure Silje.

On this album there are nine of her own compositions and three standards. To me she sounds more comfortable with her own material than she does with the standards! I wonder whether that is because she cares more about her own compositions?

Her regular trio listed above are excellent musicians and I found the Tenor playing of Magnus Lindgren very enjoyable, somewhat in the Getz tradition and very polished. Let’s hope we get an album from him soon! The quality of musicianship throughout the record is first-class; everything about this album says ‘quality’. The recording, the mixing, the presentation and the overall product, is something everyone involved should be very proud of.

The Nergaard/McGurk compositions have a bitter sweet quality about them that makes them extremely attractive, perhaps one really happy song might be nice, but maybe that will be in the next album. My favourite is ‘Keep on Backing Losers’ but every original has a lyric that most people would relate to in some way.

Silje is already an important artiste in Scandinavia, Japan and Germany and has appears at many jazz festivals in those countries. I would recommend her to jazz festival organisers in the UK, I feel sure she would be very popular.

Don Mather


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