Friday, February 12, 2010

FNV: Sondre Lerche

Norwegian-born Sondre Lerche first picked up the guitar at the age of 8 and as a teenager performed at the open-mic clubs where his sister worked. Before his 16th birthday, he signed a major-label deal with Virgin/EMI records. Lerche moved to the U.S., where he had to deal with practical matters like green card issues, but he also managed to record the soundtrack to the movie Dan in Real Life. And, most importantly, Lerche left his major label and struck out on his own.

There’s a sense of musical adventure to Heartbeat Radio, his most recent album. “I had done the major label thing, and I had experienced the pros and cons of that world,” he says. “I thought this time I’d just make the album, and see who was interested when I was finished.” The songs mix acoustic guitars with orchestral pop and elements of anything from 50s jazz, 60s and 70s Brazilian psych-folk, to state-of-the-art 80s pop masters.

After Radio was completed, Lerche headed out on the road. But instead of simply recreating the expansive nature of his new songs, most of the sets are performed solo (another tour with a regular back-up band will happen later in the year). “I like that contrast,” he says. “You get to hear where the songs came from – just one guitar, one voice, like how I do my demos. It’s a fun challenge to try and make it as dynamic and exciting as possible.”

Last night, the tour brought him to The Earl in Atlanta. But unlike last weekend's Jonathan Richman show, I didn't go. The show was on a weeknight, and I'm getting too old to be out listening to bands past midnight and still be functional the next day at work. Plus I was totally exhausted from another very busy week at work, plus Monday-night zazen, a Tuesday-night meeting of the alliance of neighborhoods, and a Wednesday-night community meeting to go over a requested zoning change request for a major new development (we decided to deny the request for various reasons).

It's now apparent to me that I am now overcommitted and that I have to give up something. The most likely candidate for the chopping block is the Beltline advisory board - I had to blow off a meeting of their Executive Committee on Tuesday night to attend the alliance meeting. But I'm not announcing my resignation quite yet; I want to give things a little more time to see how everything plays out.

But the big news here in Atlanta is . . . it's snowing! Again! For the second time already this year! It started while I was out at lunch following some morning field work at a new project site, and by the time I got to the office, the company was sending everybody home. I spent most of my "free time" this afternoon stuck in gridlocked traffic, as every other company in the City apparently decided to allow its employees to go home at the same time.

So far about an inch of snow has fallen, although it isn't sticking to the roads as far as I can see. But it has stuck to the grasses and the limbs of trees, and everything looks like a lovely winter wonderland outside.

Kind of like Norway, I guess.

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