"Enchanting simplicity...I really believe him when he sings" - Acoustic Magazine
"One of the few albums which warrants the listener to hanging onto the artist's every single word..without exception i found every song totally engrossing...Viesselman is an incisive writer who uses dazzling imagery...there are so many highlights it almost seems unfair to spotlight just one" - Maverick Magazine
"A minimalistic soul-folk masterpiece" - Klassekampen
"Just bring whatever notebook you've been carrying lately, and your guitar. I am sure that will do."
So said producer Bjarne Stensli on the telephone six months after Kreg Viesselman released his critcally aclaimed album If You Lose Your Light (COLUMBIA/SONY 2012). When Viesselman arrived at the studio a few days later and claimed that he didn't know what he had to record, Stensli replied, "Just sit down, open your note book, and start playing.”
Within the first hour of that first session, Kreg had four songs that became the nucleus of his next full album. It was these four songs that Stemli played for Kjartan Kristiansen (Dum Dum Boys, Stein Torleif Bjella, Jonas Alaska) late one night, between takes. Shortly thereafter, Viesselman, Kristiansen, and Bård Ingbrightsen were in the studio, recording what would become Viesselman's fifth album, TO THE MOUNTAIN (Appaloosa/Continental/Emerald, 2016). Kreg toured the resease in Italy and Nederland in 2017-2018, including a seven show run opening for Steven Stills and Judy Collins in the U.S.
Though born in Minnesota, Viesselman relocated to Europe in 2006. After the release of his Euro-Americana cult classic album The Pull (Red Kite Records, 2006), he retreated from touring and recording for four years. Then in 2012, he resurfaced at Oslo’s storied jazz Club Herr Nilsen for his first publicized gig in Norway, flanked by the trio who performed on his record, If You Lose Your Light. Several of Norway’s most respected musicians were in the crowd, including Sivert Høyem, who tweeted "Fantastic...I am totally blown away...he pulls most of us up by the roots!"
As before, it is his tremendous voice that first commands the listener’s attention. Yet his new material showcases a greater focus on melodies of brighter color and a warmer delivery. This color and warmth – and the broadening of his range musically and lyrically – is striking proof that those several years of rootlessness and reclusion were not wasted. His music had evolved immensly, reflecting great change –both geographic and personal.
To experience his live show is to take in not only a master of delivery at work, but to be invited into an intimate and brightly lit space where you are constantly surprised by the subtle detail in his work, painted in earthen tones, but revealing great contrasts. It’s nakedness yet striking completeness have you transfixed from the moment he opens his mouth - “a soul-deep session of primal therapy”, as Mike Butler of “Dyverse Music” described it.
It has been called “soul” and “folk”, for want of better terms, but “spirit music indeed”, as the aforementioned journalist described it, perhaps hits nearer the mark. But whatever one calls it, hearing Kreg Viesselman sing is an intense experience. He deals with humanity in its basic and most instinctive forms, in a style that belies a deep human intelligence and wry wit. His is a narrative voice, at once both brutal and touching, which deserves its place in the canon of great American songwriters.
Yes, I have moved around a lot. And it is true that I have dabbled in a lot of different vocations. For the most part, it has been a result of being very curious, but it’s also been out of necessity: the journeyman’s phase in the arts is usually protracted, and not very lucrative. And if one is curious enough, and doesn’t identify too strongly with just that one “artistic” aspect of themselves, then that journeyman’s phase becomes a perpetual state; a permanent process. I have run into many people trying to make their way in the arts who resent that fact; this state. I, however, do not.
Many times I have been asked if travelling inspires my art. That question never sits quite right with me. Not because it’s an unfair question, but because I have never really figured out how to answer it accurately.
It’s true, placing one’s self in a completely new locations gives that person a blank canvass, a clean white wall on which to practice their shadow puppets anew; to take notice of any changes. For much of my life, it’s the one I have utilized. True, it’s probably not the most efficient method, and for me has involved some pretty substantial upheaval. Yet as the scenery whizzes by in a state of constant change, I have begun to see what remains unchanged about my train.
At the same time, I think the impulse that has compelled me to move and change scenery so often is the same one that causes me to write songs. I think that that urge, in both cases, is merely an attempt to enjoy and understand the world around me.
Regardless of causes and reasons, I have come to realise that I have never been particularly good at arranging my thoughts about Existence by force. The closest I ever come to knowing how I feel about the world around me is when I hear myself singing my own songs about it. I find myself saying, “oh…so that’s what I think!” pretty often.
Contentedness and Happiness I tend to be able to experience and express naturally and wordlessly. It is sorrow that I have to work harder to either process or leave unmolested.
There is no complexity to my happiness. It just is.
I hope is that if and when people find the songs I have written, that they will find a full helping of both; of everything.
-K.V., Oslo, 2017
011 917 442 6526
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