Steinar Gregertsen – Southern Moon Northern Lights

I’ve mentioned, on numerous occasions, that becoming a part of the Guitar Noise community has helped me to “meet” people from all around the world. I’ve also gotten the chance to hear music that I might have not otherwise gotten the chance to hear in my lifetime.

Case in point: A little while back, Steinar Gregertsen, Guitar Noise forum member and lap steel guitar player, announced that he had put together a CD. Intrigued, I bought a copy of Southern Moon Northern Lights and it’s been getting tons of playing time at home, in my car and at my classes.

Southern Moon kicks off the CD with a smoky style, reminiscent of the Allman Brothers. Steinar has a wonderfully expressive voice and he uses it well. Nothing flashy, just a plaintive husky everyman doing his best to tell a story.

And what stories he tells with just the guitar! Waltzing Elisa is beautiful and way too short, but it does its job by prepping you up for the drop dead gorgeous arrangement of the Beach Boys’ God Only Knows that follows. For anyone who’s ever thought there’s no way anyone could ever surpass the original song, take a listen and be prepared to be mesmerized.

Unfinished Business, another original, features some very expressive bass work, which sets the stage for the light lap steel harmonies and wonderfully fuzzy guitar that play against each other as the song flows along.

While most of the songs are instrumentals, Steinar graces us with his voice again in two delightfully laid back cover arrangements of In The Midnight Hour and Bad Moon Rising. His slow, drawn-out style fits the songs perfectly. You wouldn’t want him to begin to imitate the original artist because he’s made the songs completely his own. Bad Moon Rising in particular, done almost as a soulful lullaby, is a stunning reinterpretation. I’m planning on running it by my friends for our next jam outing.

With its title, Will The Wind Ever Remember could easily be considered a tribute to Hendrix, but it is also another quietly powerful original piece of music. Unlike the electric guitarist, a slide or lap steel player needs to know about economy. Steinar has the confidence to let one well-placed slide note replace a flashy scale pattern. His guitar licks are tasteful and right for each song.

More melodic bass work opens The Night Of The Owl, interweaving its lines with the guitar, whose own lines resemble the graceful and occasionally violent flight of the bird of the title. Like Waltzing Elisa, it’s over much too soon.

Just when you think you’ve got the CD pegged, a perky island feel gets your toes tapping and you’re well into Poet On The Radio before you realize it’s the longest song on the CD! It’s full of contrasting textures and styles and, like all the other songs it leaves you wanting much more.

Awakening is another teaser, this one with a distinctly Asian flavor. You have enough time to think, “That’s absolutely beautiful” and then it’s gone, leaving you with Northern Lights, the closing number with its haunting dissonances and resolutions. And that leaves you no choice but to start the whole CD up again from the start.

So Paul, wherever you are, thank you for introducing me to Steinar. And Steinar, thank you immensely for this gift of music! I hope you get to share it with as many people as possible.

You can listen to samples from Southern Moon Northern lights, or even order the CD, at Steinar’s website and also at CD Baby.