Soren Andersen - 'Guilty Pleasures'

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Soren Andersen - 'Guilty Pleasures'

This album is the perfect introduction to one of the best guitarists around today.

Guitar instrumental albums have always been a bit of a niche market, but as a teen growing up through the eighties there was a point where I couldn't get enough of them. Every other week "new" names like Joe Satriani, Vinnie Moore, Tony MacAlpine and Steve Vai (to name but four) would dazzle my senses with an ever more impressive blend of fret-board pyrotechnics; their eclectic mix of Rock, Metal, Jazz, Blues and beyond taking the achievements of my heroes from the decade before to a whole other level.

Of course, it didn't last. As more players jumped on the bandwagon, later releases increasingly began to sound the same and I soon learned that forty minutes of amphetamine-fuelled solos was no substitute for diligently crafted songs (albeit songs without vocals). These days I'm much more selective, but when I heard that Danish guitarist Soren Andersen was about to unveil a new solo project, my curiosity levels spiked. Perhaps best known in the UK as Glenn Hughes' sidekick for the past decade, Andersen is an accomplished musician, writer and producer in his own right, and his CV includes the likes of Mike Tramp, Pretty Maids and Billy Sheehan amongst many others.

Heavily inspired by both Vai and Satriani, 'Guilty Pleasures' takes me back to the best of those eighties instrumental records. From the very beginning of the Vai-like opener 'City Of Angels', it's clear that Andersen fully comprehends that crucial difference between extended soloing and actual songs, his fluid licks and deft lead breaks brimming with both passion and melody. That, in a nutshell, is key to what makes this album tick – great melodies, great structures and great arrangements alongside a wonderfully svelte mix of feel and technical dexterity.

As you'd probably expect, the ten tracks that comprise this lissom musical collage cover quite a broad range of moods and emotions, and yet they somehow manage to connect in the most cohesive fashion. The muscular 'The Kid' reminds me a little of Moore with its discernible Neo-Classical structure punctuated by some great breaks, whilst the silky smooth 'Satori' is pure laid-back Satriani at his best.

You'll already know how good Soren Andersen is if you've seen him with Hughes, but if you haven't previously experienced any of his work, this album is the perfect introduction to one of the best guitarists around today.

Dave Cockett

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