If you don't know the name, you'll know his guitarwork. Ronni Le Tekrø found fame as the guitarist in Norwegian hard rockers TNT and he blisters on this solo album too, his first true solo job since a pair of Mein Ampf albums in 2014 and 2015. There's a building solo late on the opener, Life on Long Island, that ably demonstrates that he doesn't just still have it, he still has something that a lot of guitarists would kill for. The rest of the song's pretty damn good as well, a quirky but fascinating opener indeed.
What really impressed me, though, was how delightfully offbeat this album is. Few of these songs really do what you expect them to do, though I'm not sure what that would be, given that Le Tekrø hasn't ever restricted himself to a single genre. He certainly doesn't do that here, shifting around a broad realm of music from the Beatles through soothing Eric Clapton and perhaps even Cake to a more traditional hard rock mode with searing guitar. What links it all is a sort of laid back vibe. Nothing here is urgent. Ronni's just having fun.
Life on Long Island is a hard one to describe. It's almost like a cross between what he's been doing for TNT for the past forty years and, well, maybe Jimmy Buffett. Well, maybe not, but it's a combo of hard rock groove and conversational banality that seems like a wild clash but one which somehow works. Similarly, Demons is Eddie van Halen style riffs but the bizarrely banal lyrics are more David Bowie. And the next song after that is about Ronni's cat. The lyrics throughout this album are clearly personal and any that connect through do so through sheer coincidence.
I've only heard this album twice thus far, but I'm tempted to play it a few more times throughout a week or so to let the lyrics soak into my brain. Right now, it's the musical hopscotch that's grabbed my attention, the sheer variety on display on an album that somehow feels coherent. New Day in the Morning is more Eric Clapton than Eric Clapton is nowadays, soothing through both vocals and guitar. A Handful of Time feels Scottish because the swell of the guitar reminds of bagpipes, surely deliberately, conjuring up almost a Runrig vibe. U.F.O. is emphatically a hard rock song but I heard as much ELO in it as I did TNT.
In other words, there's a lot here and Le Tekrø's band is up to the schizophrenic dancing of styles. I wondered at one point if he'd brought different singers in to sing each different track, but no, it's Leif Knashaug demonstrating as much versatility behind the mike as Le Tekrø does on a fretboard. Well, OK, there is at least one guest, Rodmar Johansen on Not Today, but there may only be one. I don't know how long these musicians have been playing together but I'm guessing that it's longer than we might expect for a solo album coming out of nowhere. If not, all power to them, weaving a sonic web together so well on such a diverse set of songs. There's forty full minutes here but I was eager for more. It's a whole radio show on a CD.