Stein Urheim has often been noted in a collaborative context, having played with The Last Hurrah (Rune Grammofon), Åresong and collaborating with singer Mari Kvien Brunvoll, but his second solo album for Hubro solidifies him as a solid solo player in his own right. The album is tinged with a worldswept feeling, rooted in fingerpicked guitar but folding in drones and Eastern tones, his self-titled album transports the listener to a frosted plain where only the music can warm the soul. The guitarist cites everything from Chinese gu qin music and Steve Reich to Ornette Coleman as influences and that melting pot of the past seems to explain much of this release, though Urheim manages to boil them all into a much smoother delivery than those touchstones might warrant. The record wafts into an almost backporch blues, bent through the addition of varied string instruments from all corners of Urheim's travels and swaddled against the Norwegian chill with a core of sprightly execution. For fans of the fingerpicked tradition, Urheim is a welcome addition to the canon.
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