Review: Peter H. Nilsson – Sign Of Myself
AOR Heaven (September 10th 2021)
Reviewer: Chris O’Connor
Oh my, what a simply wonderful release. Following on from his excellent ‘Little American Dream’ debut from 2019, Peter returns with a sophomore album that is simply packed with quality songs, it is a fabulous slab of West Coast ‘Wimphem’ (thank you Derek Oliver!), that deserves to be on everyone’s shopping list.
Retaining the services of vocalist Chris Biano and bass guitarist Patrik Adiels, Peter has now augmented his band with the excellent addition of keyboard wizard Antonio Morales and session drummer extraordinaire Darrell Nutt, and this new line-up, is nothing short of stunning.
Peter could have allowed his ego to run rampant had he seen fit to do so – instead, his fretwork is always extremely tasteful and measured, he understands that less is more, and his focus is on each song in its totality, and the balance is perfect as a result. Vocalist Chris Biano has a wonderfully smooth and silken voice, Peter couldn’t have chosen a more fitting vocalist anywhere, he is just perfect, vocally a (sort of) fusion of Steve Lukather and John Wetton … honestly, he’s that classy.
Mr Nilsson has also added a new layer of sophistication to proceedings, by inviting the Norwegian horn section ‘Blåsemafian’ (translation: The Mafia Horns) to add their unique splash of colour to the album’s title track – which immediately makes me think of Chicago at their most grandiose. This is a truly assured and mature album, with undeniable class and style.
The songs are beautifully composed and arranged, the entire musical package is simply sumptuous, there are times where you feel certain songs would have fitted in beautifully to Toto’s landmark ‘IV’ album, which is a massive compliment. It is an album that fuses the ‘80’s Retro West Coast sound with contemporary AOR, the balance is perfect, and I’ve been playing the album to death as a result.
There are so many highlights that is feels almost churlish to highlight certain tracks for extra praise, although as I’ve already said, the title track is sublime. Album coda ‘Can’t Come Down’ is another absolute gem, featuring a driving riff and a chorus to die for. I’d also direct you to ‘Ships Burning In The Night’, which is a wonderfully dreamy number – it could have fitted perfectly on John Wetton’s ‘Battlelines’ album.
If I have a single criticism, it’ comes for the song ‘The First Time’ – which I’m certain is unintentionally lifted from a song called ‘My First Kiss’ by an outfit called 30H!3 (watch the cringeworthy dance off scene is ‘American Pie Reunion’ – i’m certain you will agree). That small falter aside, ‘Sign Of Myself’ is a remarkable and luxuriant West Coast Masterclass, and I commend it to you totally.