The Migrant


Written by: TL on 27/01/2015 19:28:51

Considering that The Migrant has released three albums in the last five years - with this, "Flood" being the fourth - it can seem weird that the project isn't more talked about than it is. The moniker is a handle used by Bjarke Bendtsen, aptly chosen since the Copenhagen-based songwriter has also lived in Austin, and maintains a backing band both in Denmark and in Texas, playing shows and releasing his music on both continents. His music is self-labelled as psychedelic travel songs, which isn't a bad description, considering how the songs on "Flood" mix elements from the past of pop, psych and blues, into a contemplative, folksy singer-songwriter expression, fronted by Bendtsen's soft, delicate voice, which he playfully slides from hazy whisper to quivering, Jeff Buckley-ish falsetto when the mood is right.

On the first few songs on "Flood", Bendtsen's singing and acoustic guitar are clearly up front, while percussion and electric bass and guitar is used mainly to add a sense of drive, staying locked in step with what the vocals and the acoustic are doing. This makes for some pretty straight-forward, chamber-pop-ish songs, that feel like their intent is simply to deliver some easy-on-the-ears melodies and dash of nostalgia for the days of Simon & Garfunkel and the likes. The subtle touches, like the gentle shaker in the back of the title track and the overall warm, organic feeling, makes for a well-rounded, confident expression, which feels convincing in its attempt to encourage you to leave the record on. It's actually in a song like "Belly Of A Man", that things start to get most interesting though. The song gets going with the electric guitar in focus, quickly giving room for a mini solo and some accentuated staccato strums, and as the organ comes in beneath the playful notes and hypnotic chords, you start to get the impression that The Doors likely also have room among Bendtsen's influences - a feeling which is only continued in another rousing cut like "Water" or in the dusty blues of "Haunted". Other than that, there's a certain twang to the guitars that echoes The Beatles at their more psychedelic moments, and such "Flood" calmly gives the listener a bit of each, psych, blues, pop and folk.

Regrettably though, the fascination the record evokes remains superficial even through repeat listens, in the sense that you appreciate the musicality and subtlety of the style that Bendtsen creates, but it doesn't really culminate in songs that make you sit up in your chair. Listening to it puts you in a state of almost perpetual relaxation, or meditation, which makes it perfect weekend morning music, for when rays of sun are streaking across your floor and your home is filled with the smell of your coffee heating up. It lacks a certain sense of exuberance or urgency however, when it comes to putting some melodies in your head to stay. It's a shame, because if you'd chanced upon Bendtsen and his orchestra in the live setting, you'd have seen that there's an impressive elegance in how they build their songs up there. Yet this only means that you wish the craftsmanship would manifest in some more striking tunes on album, and while it's an enjoyable listen for sure, "Flood" isn't 100% convincing in that sense.

Download: Belly Of A Man, Water, Flood
For The Fans Of: Dry The River, Jeff Buckley, Chorus Grant, Hymns From Nineveh, River City Extension

Release date 16.01.2015

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