Sordal - Center Of The Storm

by Morley Seaver

I'm certainly not one given to using terms like "soul-stirring" but the latest record by the band Sordal has me loudly proclaiming that if you're in need of a spiritual lift, this is it. I don't mean spiritual as in religious (which I am certainly not). I'm just saying that this record has such healing powers that it should be obtained with a prescription. In fact, Center of the Storm is my favorite record of 2019.

This is music for adults. No millennial whoop here. No programmed anything. No voice correction. No hoes and bitches. No teenage angst. Just a thinking man's version of lyrics supported by classy music (played by real musicians) that is elegant yet still rocks.

Stein Roger Sordal is an absolutely brilliant songwriter. Every song of the band's five-record catalogue is a showcase exercise in songwriting. With Center of the Storm he produced a master class.

The excitement starts right off the bat with the title track and the verses immediately pulled me in with Stein's plaintive voice leading the charge. The chorus is possibly my favorite part of the entire record but then there's that mini-bridge and tasty yet subdued guitar solo that follows. This song is just the best aural sandwich you've experienced in some time with all the choicest ingredients.

With this record, the band has moved away slightly from their Americana-country-tinged sound and I embrace the more rock-flavored trimmings whole-heartedly. "It's You" is a great example of this. There is more of an urgency about this track and Stein goes for it vocally. really pouring emotion into every note. I would close every show with this one.

"Picking on Goliath" is simply a tremendous track. Contemplative, somber and dripping with conviction, the track lays itself bare with the lyrical pull that is compelling but equaled by the gentle melodic framework. Nice touch with the break towards the end, allowing the song to breathe and then pushed along with an unexpected but perfectly slotted sax solo. This darkly beautiful cut is one of the cornerstones of the record.

"Riding the Wind" sees the band return to more familiar territory with a slight country bent, perhaps mostly due to the banjo which is the spine of the song. The structure of the song really lets you dig into the lyrics which are delivered convincingly by Stein and guest vocalist Erik Faber,

Four songs in and winners all --- but we're not done yet people. "Hellbent for Triumph" runs right out of the gate and keeps a brisk pace until the glorious chorus. Kind of amusing is the line, "You don't say it. You kind of mumble out the words. And it's such a shame if you let it go to waste. Wondering why," the last two words delightfully delivered in what I assume is a Bob Dylan twang (cuz Dylan mumbles, get it?)

"High Flyer" goes in another direction with a chorus that really subtly keeps you coming back for more. "You Better Take It" puts the gas pedal down and balances out the record nicely with its exciting energy. Great chorus on this one.

The record closes out on a high note (like there are any low notes on this record - duh) with the beautiful "Lucifer". Almost approaching lullaby status, the song showcases the breadth of Stein's songwriting prowess. Gentle in the beginning, the song builds in intensity coming to a rollicking finale, a perfect way to end the record.

Every record the band has released has shown growth while retaining the flavor of their trademark sound. However I feel Center of the Storm will be a benchmark for this band when looking back at their career. Yet, I'm excited for the future because with talent like this, there is no calculating the material we will be lucky enough to hear in coming years.

Because like they say in "Picking on Goliath", if "our words define who we are", Sordal are brilliant.

Preview and purchase this album here:

Visit the band website here

Sordal - Center Of The Storm

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