FAME Review: Thorbjørn Risager & The Black Tornado - Too Many Roads
Thorbjørn Risager & The Black Tornado - Too Many Roads

Too Many Roads

Thorbjørn Risager & The Black Tornado

Ruf Records - RUF 1200

Available from Ruf Records.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker

The rough and ready Thorbjørn 'The Great Dane' Risager sings in a firm often boomy voice much like a Bruce Springsteen who's seen a good deal more of the dark side than The Boss ever will. He and his eight-piece, The Black Tornados, have unearthed quite a bit of success throughout Europe and will be spending the upcoming rest of the year on the road, pleasing a growing legion of fans. 10 years into it, the hard work and Risager's hardtack writing is paying off. Too Many Roads is the ensemble's magnum opus…but don't expect that to stick, as I strongly suspect this CD is a turning point.

A 2003 listen to an old B.B. King LP showed Risager just what was what along with the direction he should be taking in his art. The result is a folksy, country, bluesy, thicktongued mixture that resides in no single modality but evinces echoes of past bands: a bit of Mick Abraham's Blodwyn Pig (ex-Jethro Tull) here and there, some Tower of Power and Muscle Shoals, a dash of Chris Rea, even some Hootie & The Blowfish (!), but mainly modern blues and a whole lot of Thorbjørn. Backseat Driver is my favorite cut, a dense slo-chug reminiscent of ZZ Top, a relentless lament with storm clouds gathering on the horizon, but Through the Tears is highly Wilson Picketty, melancholicly soulful while highly charged, a chronicle of long-lost love still mourned, a situation too many of us are all too familiar with.

The front liner shot is a bit unsettling, depicting Risager looking very much like one of the Observers from the TV seies Fringe, a tornado looming in the background. On the reverse, the band suddenly materializes (a gaggle of hip Observers?) along with a vintage auto, cyclone treading hard on their heels. The milieu is appropriate, as much of this CD is intense, Thorbjørn not exactly shy to wail his story to all and sundry. Then there are guitarist Peter Skjerning's lead lines, the brass, and backing vocals by Lea Thorlann and Pia Trojgaard. As of this release, the group has taken on its own production duties, becoming a self-contained unit, something, judging from the heavy qualities displayed, they probably should have done from Day One…ah, but then, it oft takes a while before any ensemble becomes popular enough to afford that sort of thing, doesn't it?

Track List:

  • If You Wanna Leave (Thorbjørn Risager)
  • Too Many Roads (Thorbjørn Risager)
  • China Gate (Adamson / Young)
  • Paradise (Thorbjørn Risager)
  • Drowning (Thorbjørn Risager)
  • Backseat Driver (Peter Skjerning)
  • Through the Tears (Thorbjørn Risager)
  • High Rolling (Thorbjørn Risager)
  • Long Forgotten Track (Thorbjørn Risager)
  • Red Hot & Blue (Thorbjørn Risager)
  • Rich Man (Martin Seidelin)
  • Play On (Thorbjørn Risager)

Edited by: David N. Pyles

Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
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