(4 / 5)
Don’t know this band. T-Bear aka Torbjorn Solberg is from Sweden, but the band are better known in Norway where they play often and have built up a good following. Solberg residing just 40 km from the Norwegian border.
This is their fourth album release, after forming in 2004, dropping their debut in 2006, “Let The Sweet Talk Flow”, then albums in 2008 and 2013. “Ice Machine”, was the last one.
The band is Torbjorn on guitar and lead vocals, Emil Solberg Wachenfeldt on Hammond B3, electric piano and clavinet. Fredrik Kaudern on bass and Henrik Berg on drums and percussion. They make a very decent sound indeed. Solid as a rock rhythm section and that man on B3 is some player.
T-Bear is a superb guitar player, with subtle nods to his influences Albert Collins, Albert and Freddie King. His voice does the job nicely too, but could do with a bit more “oomph” at times; you know, a bit more aggression to match the power of the band and the fire of the guitar playing.
We get 11 songs here, all music penned by T-Bear and help with the lyrics on six of the cuts from Ingela Karlsson, Kaudern and Berg. The record produced and mixed by Wachenfeldt. They nail a very fine groove and there’s obvious chemistry between the four guys. They are a formidable ensemble.
It opens with a very nice instrumental, “Taranto” dedicated to the film director Quentin Tarantino, with a Spanish vibe. Very accomplished guitar licks, and a gorgeous tone. Kind of Peter Green, Carlos Santana and Roy Buchanan had a baby, and this is what was born! The closer, “Spanish Barfly” the second of the two instrumentals, also has that Iberian feel to it.
A nice mixed bag of tempos, from boogie to ballads, and some fine shuffles. The material and assured performances deliver an even listen across this record, and should win them many new friends methinks.
Second cut in, “Cosmic Ride” is a strong track; some SRV flavours on guitar and the solo is fabulous. Also some of that Albert Collins attack and his trademark ‘ringing’ of one note. Next up, the title track “Time Is A Healer” slows down the pace and sits in a Pink Floyd template, with a prominent ‘borrowed’ Gilmour riff. “The Time Has Come”, has a theatrical, distinctively Prog’ feel to it, where the organ adds huge value.
“Spirit and Soul”, swings like heck and has a guitar style somewhere between SRV and Albert King. A cut where the vocal needed a bit more life, to be honest. Some fine twangy 50s style rock and roll flavours to “Shiver and Shake”, misspelled as “Shiwer” on the CD’s track listing. The guitar sounds great here, and they craft an infectious tango backdrop.
This material is not breaking new ground, but it is top end in quality, and in T-Bear aka Mr Solberg, we have a very, very skilled guitarist who treads his own ground while also paying discreet homage to his heroes at the same time.
This record is worthy of wide spread attention and this guitarist will give the best of the best a run for their money on the UK and European blues scene, for sure. I feel the need to see these cats live…after reading this promise on their social media: “Hot blues nights guaranteed”. Well, it does get bloody cold in Norway and Sweden, doesn’t it?
By Simon Redley
(2 / 5) ‘OK Zone’
(3 / 5) ‘Decent Zone’
(4 / 5) ‘Super Zone’
(5 / 5) ‘Awesome Zone’