Lars-Erik Dahle may not be a familiar name to most people, but to TV viewers in Scandinavia, the sound of his Fender Bass is. Having served as house band on more than 150 TV shows, including Norwegian hit shows Allsang på Grensen and Torsdag Kveld Fra Nydalen, the past few years have seen Hans Orkester, of which he's a founding member, becoming one of Norway's most trusted TV and backing bands.
His other main gig is in Norwegian funk sensation Ole Børud's band. They've played together for 11 years, and Lars-Erik's deep bass grooves are an integral part of Børud's live performance, as well as his two most recent records, the critically acclaimed "Shakin' The Ground" and "Keep Movin'".
It's no surprise, then, that Dahle's debut album features appearances from Ole Børud himself and members of Hans Orkester. What is surprising, though, is that there's not a single bass note on the entire album. "I wanted to make a statement," he says. "My singing and songwriting is not something I get to showcase in my daily life as a session bass player, so for my debut album, I wanted to put the focus squarely on those two things." In fact, Lars-Erik's first entry into the Norwegian music industry was as a studio backup singer for Norwegian artists such as Return, Hanne Krogh and Åge Aleksandersen. "I also sang on demos for songwriters, all while writing my own songs on the side," he explains, "but before I could get my own material out there in any meaningful fashion, I started getting bass gigs, and suddenly I was making my living as a bass player, which I didn't mind at all."
"Step Into The Water", as the title suggests, sees Dahle stepping out into uncharted territory. Based on an eight-hour recording session with childhood friend and Ole Børud bandmate Frode Mangen, the album sounds honest and stripped-down. "There's no place to hide when there's just you and a grand piano," he muses. "The songs have to be good, and the singing has to match. It's a scary thing, but Frode's amazing piano performances carried me through."
Of course, it doesn't hurt having great players like James Taylor
's organist Larry Goldings
and Swedish jazz singer Viktoria Tolstoy
contribute to the sound, and getting Michael Ruff
on board as a pianist for one track was a major get. "I've always loved 'Seeing For The Very First Time', and after getting to tour with Michael for a brief spell last summer, I wanted to have that song on my album with his piano playing. Luckily, Michael said yes," Dahle
Three of the songs on the albums are originals, and the covers that make up the rest of the set were carefully selected from Dahle's favorite songs and songwriters. The result is a deeply personal album that's easy to listen to, but hard to put down. It's the perfect soundtrack to a rainy late night or a lazy morning in bed.
"Step Into The Water" is available now at www.larserikdahle.com