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Arly Karlsen - Sweet Honky Tonk
By: George Peden, CSO Staff Journalist

Never let it said country music isn’t universal. Take Arly Karlsen. He’s a good ol’ boy from Norway. That’s a fair pony ride from Nashville. But that’s not a worry. Karlsen knows Nashville, having performed there several times, and he loves his Kenny, Keith, Alan and Toby. He’s not only got a fat black hat to prove it, but he’s got a singer songwriter’s passion for career music that’s shaped his life.

Back on the shelf with his third album, Sweet Honky Tonk, the talented Norwegian’s ready to build on his career. Well positioned with several chart fliers, he’s already enjoying coveted radio spins from Australia to Amsterdam. Stacked with a slew of independent awards and accolades, including a European CMA ''Male Vocalist of The Year'', and writing credits with well-known Hank Cochran, bad boy reformer Billy Don Burns and a host of other local writers, for a guy who picked up a guitar at 12 but never went solo until 2001, the future is, to steal from his album title, sweet.

His current release, complemented with a clipped accent and an obvious “feel” for a song, is a hat tip to classic country. Loaded with a generous 14 cuts, the album rides the boundary of the familiar and the new, propped nicely with two duets from Pauline Reese and the popular Pat Roden. Those respective tracks – “”One Less Honky Tonk” and “If Teardrops Were Pennies” -- rather than fill, flatter an album that deserves the industry and fan interest it’s getting.

Recorded in Nashville with a band of primed musicians, including respected guitarist Danny Parks, the album is a meld of piano, steel, fiddle and mandolin. It all works a treat, especially when Karlsen applies his smooth baritone charm to “Hello Darlin;’’ the Harlan Howard classic, “Heartaches By The Number;” and the Alan Jackson standard, “Walking The Floor Over Me”.

Norway may be a route march from Music Row, but Arly Karlsen knows that even a world away, the value of a solid video to support a good song works wonders. Point in question: The Gambler. The hit Kenny Rogers rode to the chart summit not only enjoys a Tarantino-like production on AK’s web site, but it’s a reworked gem here. The moody fan favorite enjoys the Karlsen stamp – rather than make a clone, the tune engages with Karlsen’s subtle inflection and delivery. 

1962’s hit for Ned Miller, "From A Jack To King,” stands tall with Haggard’s, “Honky Tonk Night Time Man”. Karlsen, though, doesn’t miss out. He gets writers royalties with three co-writes on the album set: "My Woman,” “Norway USA” and “Good All Over Feeling”. “Woman” is a standard heart-breaker and fits a traditional country mold, while “Norway” is a multilingual experience reinforcing my original thought: country music is universal. “Feeling” is a missing-a-loved-one road song riding a styled Waylon-ish guitar riff. 

The global village is getting smaller. Country music is moving past the limited boundaries of Nashville. And it’s about time. Europe, Australia, Canada and beyond are all now heavy subscribers to the twang thang. Arly Karlsen, drag up a chair. Welcome. We’ve saved a spot for you.

Sweet Honky Tonk song list:

To purchase the CD online just click on the album cover on the left. 
1: Hello Darlin’ 
2: Heartaches By The Number
3: Just For The Love Of It
4: Walking The Floor Over Me
5: Things
6: My Woman
7: The Gambler
8: One Less Honky Tonk
9: Good All Over Feeling
10: My Rose
11: If Teardrops Were Pennies
12: From A Jack To A King
13: Honky Tonk Night Time Man
14: Norway USA

Related Links:
www.arly.net - Official Site

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