When a genre breaks out of its birthplace, it opens itself up internationally to interpreters and innovators of all kinds. So while we most closely associate the soul sound with Detroit and Memphis, especially amidst this blissful retro-soul resurgence, you can find fascinating takes on soul from corners of the globe you might not expect.
Say for example Kristiansand, Norway. That’s the home base of producer/arranger/multi-instrumentalist Morten Martens. After scoring Norway’s equivalent to a Grammy for hip-hop production back in 2006, Martens’ creative craftsmanship has only evolved alongside his low-key lifestyle; a turn away from touring led Martens to construct his own home studio and turned recording and producing others into a full-time gig. Yet it was only the onset of COVID that gave Martens the time, even in an already-isolated setting, to revaluate all the skills he’d accrued over the years and funnel them all into his ’60s-’70s inspired soul-funk-pop project Les Imprimés.
As heard on Les Imprimés’ upcoming debut LP Rêverie, Martens doesn’t exactly have the kind of pipes you’d expect from the classic Motown/Stax era. But backed by vintage-style arrangements and recording techniques, Les Imprimés transcends “blue eyed soul” with truly beautiful originals, all the product of Martens dreaming big. So before getting lost in the dozen-song daydream when Rêverie drops on August 11th, take a step into the time machine with the album’s latest lead single, “You“. Because at a clean three minutes, “You” presents those throwback chart-topping pop formulas in a way that makes it sound like a long-lost Delfonics rarity just got a healthy remaster. We’re calling it now – Morten Martens is on the fast track to becoming Norway’s answer to Kelly Finnigan.
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