“Night Train to Budapest” – Henrik Freischlader

4 stars (out of 5)

1

Night Train to BudapestYou certainly can’t accuse Henrik Freischlader of taking time out in 2013.  After the release of the superb “House in the Woods” in September 2012, he took his band on tour over the winter to support the album.  When that tour finished he went to live in the studio for a few months to produce his four-CD live album, play virtually all the instruments on, and produce Layla Zoe’s album “The Lily”.  After that, he went on to record this album, “Night Train to Budapest” which was released in December 2013; he did some shows to promote this album as well.  Henrik is self-taught and plays guitar, bass, drums and organ; he also has a great blues/soul voice and writes powerful songs in a second language.

Following the “live band” approach he adopted for his previous studio album, “House in the Woods”, Henrik has reverted to his favoured studio approach with “Night Train to Budapest”, playing all the parts himself with the exception of keyboards which are played by his live collaborator Moritz Fuhrhop.  The album begins in the way you would expect, with “Point of View”’s blistering riff and powerhouse solo before shifting through a wide variety of blues-rock stylings and even a ballad, the acoustic-led “Caroline”, which would sound at home on a 70s American west coast album, although it really didn’t need the trucker’s gear change for the last chorus.

There are a few funky blues tunes, “Gimme All you Got” and “A Better Man” (which has more than a touch of Ike and Tina’s “Nutbush City Limits”), the mid-tempo riff-driven “Down the Road”, “Everything is Gone” and “Shame” and the reggae-tingedf “If This Ain’t Love” with its clean chords and over-driven lead guitar.

There are a couple of slow blues songs which demonstrate the control and finesse of Henrik’s vocals and playing.  “Thinking About You” is a relationship breakdown song with washes of controlled feedback as the song builds to a climax, while “My Woman” is very slow with a minimal arrangement held together by Moritz Fuhrhop’s Hammond chords, leaving plenty of space to emphasise Henrik’s powerful, clean guitar work.  The album closes with the slow, brooding (almost one-chord) menace of “Your Loving was so Good” after just over an hour and eleven very good songs.

It’s a very good album, but that’s what you would expect from a Henrik Freischlader studio effort.  His songwriting seems to be taking a more introspective direction over the last two studio albums, with an increased emphasis on loss and loneliness in the lyrics, but it is the blues after all.  If you like blues and blues/rock, then I’m pretty certain you’ll like this.  If you don’t like those styles, it’s still worth a listen because of the quality of the performances and the songwriting.

Out now on Cable Car Records (CCR 0311-42).