I have to admit, right from the start, I did not expect the spacey, alt, funk pop-rock I got from Glenn Meling’s third and latest album ‘Minnesota’. Having been previously unaware of Meling’s work, and going over the synopsis of the album, I expected a very American, frontier-folk album about the great migrations to good ‘ol ‘Brother Jonathan‘ (USA) in the 1800′s, but instead what I got from this Oslo native, was an outside-going-in take on settlement, specifically of Norwegians to ‘Minnesota’. Let’s take a trip in time, shall we…
Contented to still be ‘Alive‘, I’m sure the Europeans who traveled to America in the 1800′s must have had reservations on the long voyage across the Atlantic to the then fairly new nation of the United States of America. With a very U2-esque opening to the album, I was very surprised not only for that very fact, but for the incredible funk drop into the lyrics. As if a more worldly Bono, Glenn Meling fits the funk with both strong and seductive flair. The choral backing vocals add to the enormity of the track, for sure.
‘Brother Jonathan‘, or Uncle Same, or the U.S. – whatever you choose to call it served, with its vast land, as haven for many immigrants, and still does, regardless of any great restrictions that exist today. This seeming love story of the revival of one’s soul via the ‘new world’ has an enticing Bowie feel to it, from the synthy bass, to the lyrical construction, to the choir, the minor drops, and the grand climax…though one can’t help but hear vague traces of this otherworldly Bono.
‘Minnesota‘ was one of those aforementioned havens for a great population of Norwegians, and given Meling’s cultural background, there is no wonder he would put some focus on this hotbed for his brave countrymen circa the nineteenth century. Title track for the album, this desolate, and disconsolate tune speaks of the great hardships of those very men and women, though the song has the sense of a very endearing hope that remains.
Now ‘Far Away From Home‘, this heartfelt, and most folk-like derivative from the album bares, and bears the full spectrum of conflicting emotions of the immigrant, now so far from familiarity. Such beautiful ballad piano takes us on an emotional journey of dissolution with a chorus of beautiful voices, and sweetening strings, that make even more bitter this bittersweet moment in time. My personal favourite track from the album, the piano and violin, with subdued percussion allow both the choral and solo vocals to be lifted up above the track itself, and into a journey that one is pulled along into.
An aptly titled funk tune, this track outlines the great injustice so common to ‘America‘ at the time…injustice that may just still pervade through immigration today. Another great Bowie vibe traveling through this song, one could take the lyric one of two ways: this could be of American injustice done to immigrants, or perhaps the injustice of Europe, and thus the desire to travel to ‘America‘ for a dream that, unbeknownst to those journeying there, would never be fully realized.
Searching for that milk and honey, a love song is never too far behind, and the search for that ‘Secret Flower‘ is a wonderfully eerie but excitingly synth-funk jam. Meling’s ear for just what genres of music can cross, and communicate well is wonderful.
Glenn, I must say, ‘The Good I See in You‘ is your fantastic ability to take a classic jazz horn, and add it to a modern melody that could fit in the so-called ‘indie-scene’, but also has the grandeur of a musical number.
Again, the “land of milk and honey” motif comes into play. ‘The New Day‘ for those who searched for the American dream is ushered in with a very worldly composition of togetherness. A seemingly two part track, this ode to America turns once again to funky bass, with the addition of brass band, choral trills, string section, and crashing percussion that creates an enormous track, comparable to the land these searchers came to two hundred years ago.
Closing with an essence reminiscent of the opening, the journey to be ‘Free‘ has come to a close via this album but, of course, for those who traveled to American all that time ago, the freedom they found was fraught with great hardships. But as Meling sings “A man can set himself free”. My second favourite track on the album, this beautifully uplifting song really captures the spirit of the age.
Glenn Meling has the gravitas of a much more worldly Bono, and the musically technical diversity of David Bowie, and in addition to that, has his own voice, his own vibe, and a great sense of story. Following the journey of his fellow countrymen to the young United States was a sorrow and a joy, I think in just the way Meling intended it to be. Check out the lead single ‘Brother Jonathan‘ right HERE, if you’re so inclined, and check out the rest of this funky travelogue HERE!