It is never too late to acknowledge a remarkable artist. Following the release of his debut solo album Francis’ Lonely Nights, Janove Ottesen is worthy of such recognition. A Norwegian musician born at Bryne, Rogaland, Norway, Ottesen previously joined the army, before beginning his musical career. After returning from his venturing as a soldier, Ottesen acknowledged his musical responsibility and became a music teacher, soon furthering into a new band and releasing several albums under the name Kaizers Orchestra. Deciding to alternate the band’s success with his own success, Ottesen released Francis’ Lonely Nights, a conclusively admirable album for one’s paralleled solo career.
Francis’ Lonely Nights opens with a simple acoustic approach on “Wonderful Show.” There is a significant sincerity immediately noticeable in Ottesen combined with the elegant and easy guitar strumming. Perhaps one of the greatest displays of Ottesen and his remarkable talent is found within “Wonderful Show”, mostly because of his exposure. His voice never elevates much above a whisper, but he is never more vulnerable – absolute, striking rawness; an incomparable sincerity. The soft arrangement allows for Ottesen to soar, until tranquil orchestral additions and the light acoustic strumming eclipse it. However, he does not struggle with breaking free of constraints.
Francis’ Lonely Night should not be misconceived as a stereotypical , melancholy album, but is instead overshadowed by a vulnerability Ottesen exposes and persistent rawness, still feeling himself from genre restrictions. Several tracks highlight his ability to exemplify his versatility, notably “Tickets”, “This City Kills”, and “Garbage Man”, which are significantly brighter instrumentation and tone-wise. Though initially presented with a stripped down acoustic sound, “Tickets” proves otherwise with an extra bit of instrumentation. Distinct from the beginning track, “Tickets” includes the pleasant soundings of a harmonica and the hushed, but noticeable percussion section contributing to the song’s variety, definitively not solely an acoustic song. Washed away by the finishing of an organ echoing, “Tickets” establishes that all is not the same with Janove Ottesen.
Comparable with resonating with listeners in a similar fashion is “This City Kills”, but the song is not alike atmospherically. It is especially the guitar playing that keeps the energy level of the music up, vehemently more upbeat than previous track. The masterful delivery and sharpness of Ottesen vocally does not go unnoticed, incorporating a change in feel and pace. Still though, Ottesen provides a warmth and comfort incomparable, but still approachable for listeners, hoping to not only find enjoyment in his words, but support in the escape his music provides. “Garbage Man” offers a track surrounded by pulsating drum beats and amusing lyricism “Hook up with some people / hook up with some people you don’t know / Your laughter is contagious.” The strength in percussion hadn’t been too visible before this composition, but “Garbage Man” establishes that a steady, rocking drumming is not be forgotten within Ottesen’s music.
The album concludes with “Black And White Movie,” arguably the strongest track. The Janove Ottesen introduced at the beginning of the album is not the Janove Ottesen you encounter on “Black And White Movie.” This Ottesen is a rocker who delivers smooth vocals with a relative coolness that no instrumentation could insist on washing over. Built off the foundation an initial drum roll and steady rock groove, “Black And White Movie” should not be considered “easy listening”, but instead settles upon a groove, especially with the expertly placed drum fills. You are not receiving explosive jam sessions, but Ottesen delivers on concluding with such a distinctly different song that he is depicted as an artist capable of tackling various genres. Though another solo album is yet to follow Janove Ottesen’s debut record, listeners hope that it won’t be too long before the next one is released.