Morten Harket’s music always seems to grab you more when he is being personal and open with his lyrics than most of his musical compatriots from the 1980’s teen idol, music video-raised era.
The former Norwegian heartthrob to a million girls via the band A-Ha has come a long way since the days of Hunting High and Low and the single that kicked off the band’s good fortune, the popular and extremely catchy Take on Me. Even with A-Ha ‘s last release in 2009, Morten Harket sounds more relaxed and true to his original ethos on his new album, Out of my Hands, than he has done throughout the whole of his career.
The album opens up with Scared of Heights, a number that may have, in times gone past, sixth formers rushing to their text books to write down the lyrics and creating mix-tapes around. It would be consumed for its easy lyrics and even easier sound, which has the feel of an early 60’s Merseysound and crossed with a tune that brought out the best in the likes of Blondie. That’s where the comparison should end though as the words betray a comfortable sadness, a melancholy that’s delicious; to feel the desire to raise your own being away from careful monotony and into a place where it’s all right to feel the rush of love but know the danger of the fall afterwards.
Out of My Hands continues in that beautiful dramatic repose throughout, good music coupled with lyrics that, whilst won’t speak to some, have the power to reignite a passion for a genre of music that was perfectly good and had a place in people’s hearts and psyche. Morten Harket captures the moment of the sad silent lament of one at peace with himself but crying out for understanding and peace.
Nowhere is this palpable than on the tracks When I Reached the Moon and Listening, there is an exquisite power to the words that works brilliantly with session musician Steve Osbourne and in the case of the song Listening, with Pet Shop Boys vocalist Neil Tennant on backing vocals.
With many artists and groups that dominated the charts in the 1980’s making a real go of life the second time around and making some incredible music, there will be the usual clamour by some to say that the older generation doesn’t speak to them or for them. That’s fine, a lot that came out of the 80’s wasn’t great but there was some genuine talent that was hiding behind a corporate ideal just to raise a profile. You can knock that; we all have, but given the time to expand beyond that time and with a freedom that wasn’t available to them back then, this new renaissance for good music surely deserves to be heard and listened to with a completely open mind.
Ian D. Hall