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Terje Gravdal (Norway) –   Welcome to the Rehab (single/sample track from EP The Hostage)

Terje Gravdal likes his EPs. The last one came out only a couple of months ago and already the next one is here.

He also likes telling stories. Indeed I’d go so far as to call him a master of that particular craft.

‘The Hostage’ is a collection of these stories, recounted in his inimitable fashion and ranging over the many ways in which any person can be ‘held hostage.’ They include being trapped by, tempted by or – worse – addicted to a whole range of things including narcotics; alcohol; ideology; religion; work (God forbid); family; family; relationships; conflicts and war.

To which I might have added some random thoughts like politics, poverty, sex and even watching TV.

It’s not so much 50 ways to leave your lover as a dozen ways to lose your freedom.

And as he points out they may be self-inflicted wounds. Sometimes you’re in it whether you want to be or not but the common denominators are always fear, grief, despair, anxiety and, ultimately desperation.

In space no-one can hear you scream and there’s plenty of space where Terje lives in the quaintly named township of Odda, in the Folgefonna National Park to the southeast of Bergen, a sort of Norwegian Twin Peaks I guess. When he introduces the album as ‘based on a true story’ you can easily believe him.

There can’t have been many social observers and commentators in the music business as acute as Terje since Dylan. In this five-track EP he embraces how life changes irrevocably when alcohol takes over as your best friend and ‘problem solver’ (‘WHISKEY-COLOURED FRIEND’); those who are imprisoned in their own homes by way or age, sickness or infirmity (or pandemics, I suppose) (‘HOSTAGE IN MY HOME’); the utterly competitive, restless, stressful, and challenging nature of our society (‘WELCOME TO THE REHAB’); the Great Reset and the New World Order (‘GET IN LINE’); and youth, dreams and the opportunities and uncertainties that hide behind life’s many ‘doors’ (‘GROWING UP’).

That’s like an entire night’s viewing on BBC2 on one EP.

‘GET IN LINE’ we’ve already featured as a single so the choice of a sample track lay within the other four.

Sonically speaking the melody in ‘GROWING UP’ was the biggest draw, but in the week that we reviewed Beyoncé for the first time with a song from her ‘Cowboy Carter’ album I had to go for the one that is the truest to Terje’s loosely Americana style, fiddle ‘n all, ‘WELCOME TO THE REHAB’.

Just like Houston’s finest Terje doesn’t skimp on the lyrics. There are 320 words in them here and little repetition. He reminds me of Johnny Cash (who went through Rehab himself, in more ways than one) in this song and there are a couple of – purely coincidental or not – references to the Man in Black, such as “You’ve been searching in the dark/But did you see no light?” and You’ve been walking on the line.”

To which you might even add “Hit by your aching heart” except that ‘Achy Breaky’ was a Billy Ray Cyrus song only covered by Cash.

The three key sets of lines to me are:

“You’ve been aiming for your goal/But did you lose your soul?”,

“You’ve been climbing high and low/But did you win the show?”,


“Why do you do the same?/Why won’t you change your game?”

All couched in that irritating office-speak which grates as much as “blue sky thinking”, “circling back”, “deep diving” and “thinking outside the box” they collectively confirm why you’ll never break out of the routine, short of selling your soul to the Devil.

This is serious middle aged music, written by someone who has accumulated multiple experiences through a life that has been lived to the full and who knows a thing or two. Gen Z won’t get it. But they need not apply.

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