Change My Game should do exactly that for Thorbjorn Risager and The Black Tornado. After their last studio release Too Many Roads brought the Danish Rockers many accolades in 2014 including #5 on BRR’s top 20 list that year, they are back to firmly plant their flag with one of the more creative releases in recent memory. Filled with a myriad of songs that spans the gamut from dirty delta influenced blues, to soulful and dynamic ballads and some powerful rockers this album showcases the breadth of their abilities along with the Risager’s unique voice. It has been described as one part Ray Charles, one part Bob Seger, and part Joe Cocker and while you can hear all those influences there is definitely something unique that sets him apart.
The lead off track of “I Used to Love You” sets a mellow ’80s vibe with its muted picked guitar riff. That is not the only standout ballad, though. “Long Gone” and its bass line pulls you along to the sublime chorus. Throw the featured horns and the hi-fi crackle of a phonograph spinning though “Lay My Burden Down” and you have three emotionally entrenched ballads that make you respect the weight of Risager’s powerful voice. Meanwhile, “Hard Time” lightens things up with a breezy feel good vibe.
This is not just a collection of ballads. There are some straight up in your face rock tunes like “Dreamland,” “Hold My Lover Tight,” “Maybe It’s Alright,” and the decidedly funky title track “Change My Game.” Some Delta blues makes an appearance with the dobro riff focused “Holler ‘n Moan” and the rhythmic drive of “Train.” “City of Love” after has an intro that makes you think there is a spaceship landing quickly turning the corner into another rocking’ blues jam.
This collection of excellent musicians takes full advantage of the dynamic arrangements that a full eight-piece band including horns offers them. This is a great album that proves they are the real deal and that after 14 years and 11 albums they don’t show any signs of decay.
The Review: 8.5/10
Can’t Miss Tracks
– I Used to Love You
– Change My Game
– Long Gone
The Big Hit
– Change My Game
Review by Kevin O’Rourke