Regardless of genre, this is one of the year’s most compelling debuts. Nordlund’s musical acumen and imagination are off the charts and it’s reflected in an eight song collection that manages to entertain, challenge, provoke, and soothe in the same package. Divide Avenue has real substantive value and broad based appeal.
Instrumental albums don’t come along often anymore and fewer still are memorable. Nordlund’s album is distinguished by many things, but one of its crowning characteristics is its aura. Divide Avenue feels like an album meant to last and a personal statement. There isn’t a second of filler to be found and even less pretension or self-indulgence.
Thomas Nordlund is musician as magician, a playing talent capable of fleshing out entire landscapes with only a few notes. There is something almost painterly about this album, even literary. Divide Avenue is a moving work of musical poetry.
Nordlund’s eight songs play like lean focused works of art. Is it a perfect album, no, but Divide Avenue ranks among the best guitar instrumental albums recorded in the last two decades.
…the live-recorded instrumental album variably brought back memories of that shared stage in the early ‘60s when jazz and rock guitar started to intermingle, as well as the wide open spaces and slow burning riffs associated with the American southwest.
Divide Avenue parades a variety of voices for the listener’s enjoyment and each one speaks from an emotional rather than technical point of view. Connecting with this music isn’t difficult. It’s a vibrant work of musical art and one of the best instrumental releases in recent memory.
Each track is a carefully considered musical exploration, that demands careful consideration and improves considerably after subsequent listening. After a while, you realise you don’t need the lyrics, but relish instead the opportunity to hear and understand the music in its own right as it conveys mood, synthesis and relativity. There is not one poor track on the album which develops as a symphonic piece.
Divide Avenue is one of those albums’s you know you should listen to, don’t expect much from, and blow you out of your chair when you finally hear them. There isn’t a weak song on the album and Nordlund’s frequently towering guitar performance should earn him the reputation as one of the instrument’s supreme stylists.
Multiple musicians appear on Divide Avenue and help create sonic movies invoking landscape, emotion, and action in equal measure. Nordlund’s own playing on baritone guitar draws from a deep grab bag of approaches like jazz and blues mixed in a potent stew of chords, coherent melodies, masterful vibrato, and a perfect touch for the instrument. His musical presence doesn’t consume every second of the album, but it’s the force lurking at its center and drawing all other musical elements into its orbit.
Divide Avenue requires two or more listens before you begin to fully appreciate Thomas Nordlund’s aims here. This is ambitious fare. In some ways, Nordlund’s songs on Divide Avenue act as novelistic observers of their creator’s mental life, translated into song, and assigned meaning.
Any true lover of music, most of all guitar, who hears this will likely be blown away. Nordlund plays with equal parts deliberation and wide-eyed inspiration and Divide Avenue captures that indecision well.