As my review made evident, I enjoyed Young’s previous Oslo Sessions release, Urban Gardening – a session of large ensemble music rich in dance-inducing rhythms and world-ranging voicings and vocals.
Equally, if not more, enjoyable, Last Things is a much more intimate affair with something of a philosophical air to its variegated, at times melancholy, musings. One of many stand-out tracks here is Deep River by the Norwegian saxophonist and singer Bendik Hofseth, who has penned many a thoughtful lyric (check out his Swing City from the early 1990s).
A literate and sensitive guitarist, the Norwegian Young is well known for his three laid-back yet arresting ECM albums of recent years. He features here in a flowing range of duo settings with his compatriot Hauge: penned by Young (as is Bounce With Me) the meditative title track features the guitarist’s vocal debut, and very effective it is in its deep-voiced, calmly understated way, complemented by Hauge’s multi-tracked harmony.
Born in 1992, the light-voiced but captivating vocalist can scat with freshly minted conviction when she so wishes (sample Little Wing, So In Love and No Moon) and has already got a distinctive discography to her name. Here her command of pitch, intonation and phrasing proves well up to the challenges of a programme which ranges from Cole Porter (So In Love), Hoagy Carmichael (Skylark) and Fran Landesmann (Sad Young Men) to Jimi Hendrix (Little Wing) and Lennon and McCartney (I Will).
The press release suggests that if Melody Gardot, Eva Cassidy, Ella Fitgerald and Chet Baker are to your taste, then Last Things is for you. Fair enough, but I would add fellow Norwegian vocalists Sidsel Endresen and Silje Nergaard to that indicative list.
Last Things is a tempered but potent burner of an album, an archetypal meditation on love and joy, loss and longing, with Young’s spare and sensitive playing and arrangements the perfect complement to Hauge’s poetic sensitivity and nuanced improvisational flair.
Bounce With Me; I Will; Little Wing; Skylark; Last Things; Deep River; So In Love; No Moon At All; Lilac Wine; The Ballad Of The Sad Young Men (41.39)
Hauge (v, md); Young (gs, v). Oslo c. 2018.
Oslo Session Recordings OSR003