Sondre Lerche and the Faces Down Quartet

Duper Sessions
(Astralwerks)

Norwegian singer Sondre Lerche speaks (and sings) English as a second language, but that hasn't stopped him from penning dozens of perfect pop gems. He's been building an international buzz since his dazzling debut with Faces Downin 2002. Duper Sessions may be more acoustic, stripped down and retro than its predecessors, but Lerche's attention to craft remains intact. With the band laying down a relaxed, jazzy, piano-bar groove, Lerche romps through 14 tunes celebrating love's goofy joys and sentimental heartaches. His cover of Cole Porter's "Night and Day," sung accompanied only by guitarist Kato Ådland, could have been risky. Most modern songwriters can't come close to matching Porter's wit or melodic gifts, but the tune fits comfortably with Lerche's own compositions. "(I Wanna) Call It Love" could be an unknown Porter tune; it has an intro, breezy lyric and instantly memorable chorus. Ditto "Everyone's Rooting for You," "I'm Not From Here," and several more. Lerche's fragile tenor, boyish with a trace of insouciant humor, makes the lyrics twinkle, while a new band member, pianist Erik Halvorsen, puts the icing on this very cool cake.

 
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