Jan Holberg Project – At Your Service

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Review by Brian McGowan

Nordic Records

The second album from sought after bass-playing, song-writing session man Jan Holberg, not only do we have Joe Lynn Turner again providing vocals, we have Age Sten Nilsen (Wigwam) and Tony Carey (Rainbow) as guest vocalists too. Nilsen and Turner contribute vocals on three tracks apiece, Carey on two, and there’s one instrumental. Considering the guest list gravitas, the first two tracks, ‘Waters Rising’ and ‘Battle For Your Heart’ pull the rug out from under our high expectations. Good songs both, yes, but polite, bland, anodyne. You can almost imagine them looking around, wondering if they’re on the right album: out of place, out of time; MOR for the hard rock generation. But then track three, ‘Jealousy And Pride’ picks us right back up again. Wow! Brought to our senses by a ballad! In truth, it’s not far away from the first two tracks stylistically, but in mood, feel and languid introspection, it’s in another galaxy, with JLT elegantly embracing Westcoast stylings and sultry AOR sentimentality.

And it gets better.

Carey wrote the lyrics to and sings the tear-stained cowboy’s lament ‘Outta My Face’. His cracked, careworn voice and Holberg’s arrangement – all shuffling rhythms and twanging guitars – intertwine beautifully on this song. One of the album‘s killer cuts. That country rock’n’roll feel continues with ’Shady Haze Of Grey’, unfolding at a leisurely pace, leading into a curvaceous, shapely chorus. Sister songs both, ‘Sensuality’ and ‘21 Red’ zone in on Funk. one aping the sleek, westcoast groove of artists like Chicago and The Eric Gales Band, the other going the soulful, brassy, harmony vocal route, sounding a lot like the UK’s Robin George. That said, when we reach the solid, upbeat, classic melodic rock of ‘When Push Comes To Shove‘, it feels like we might just have reached the album’s most impressive cut, with Nilsen proving he‘s much more than simply a purveyor of pop rock pap.

Holberg has clearly become a song writing craftsman – the fact he attracted 3 high profile vocalists speaks volumes for his skill. At Your Service might just establish him a permanent place at the Classic Rock table. If only he had beefed up those first two tracks. Then again, what do I know?

Jan Holberg At Your Service7 out of 10

Track listing:

  1. Waters Rising
  2. Battle Of Your Heart
  3. Jealousy And Pride
  4. Outta My Face
  5. Shady Haze Of Grey
  6. Sensuality
  7. 21 Red
  8. When Push Comes To Shove
  9. I Still Remember