Lonesome Highway, Ireland.
This seven-piece band are based in Norway and this is their third album. The creative hub is the partnership shared by Rune Hauge and Kjersti Misje. This talented duo share lead vocals and their easy tone combines to create a rich tapestry to wrap around the song melodies. Hauge writes all the songs and they focus on relationships in all sorts of different colours; from the woes felt in Just Before Dawn, to the sweet memories recalled from the past on Memory Lane. The interplay is quite superb between these talented musicians, highlighted especially on the excellent Memory Lane.
I’ll Do Anything To See You Smile and Fallen On Strange Times continue this relationship theme, with the band playing in an understated manner, full of gentle restraint and sweet harmonising across their instruments; Andy Leftwich (mandolin and fiddle), Jeff Taylor (Accordion), Rob Ickes (dobro), Kenny Malone (percussion), Mark Fain (Bass), and with Rune Hauge (Guitars and vocal), together with Kjersti Misje (guitar, vocals), heightening everything in the arrangements. Bil VornDick assisted in both engineering and mixing from his Nashville studios and Millpond Moon produced, also using studios in Norway and Spain on their travels.
Don’t Ever Make That Right is a song that tackles domestic abuse and it is finely judged in the playing. The obvious pleasure that this ensemble gets from coming together to play music is captured in the song, All My Life, and it captures perfectly the magic that is clearly present. ‘When the lights go down, I got the best seat in town, Everybody goes with the flow, Brings back memories from long ago.’ I couldn’t have put it better myself. Well worth further investigation.
Sounds like a million dollars
How many singer / songwriter, americana and bluegrass-inspired folk / country releases give you peace of mind? Alison Krauss and her Union Station Band have made it into a tradition, and even more so the duo of Julie & Buddy Miller (Buddy was a member of the Emmylou Harris Band). In this exclusive company we also find the duo Millpond Moon consisting of Kjersti Misje and Rune Hauge. A Bergen-based duo who have started releasing albums as rarely as Julie & Buddy Miller, but finally as the pandemic opens up, their first album in 7 years is released.
Rune Hauge (who started out playing with one of our finest Norwegian countrymen ever - Cato Sanden), and his musical half, Kjersti Misje, must be Norway's answer to Julie & Buddy Miller. They have previously shown that they write and perform (and not the least sing) songs that crawl under your skin with a timelessness that almost only the blues and country music does. They have turned the simple arrangements, the timeless American recipes in hill country music from the mountains between Tennessee and North Carolina with mandolin, fiddle, acoustic guitars, dobro, accordion, bass and light percussion into an artform you seldom hear. And then we have not highlighted the vocal depth between Rune and Kjersti, as the one between Julie and Buddy, which has an enormous effect on everyone with a heart for this acoustic American form of music. Time simply stands still, and the music grows on you with each listening. Yes, after ten rounds you realize what a brilliant and great album-release this is. It needs time. Quality does that. It grows under your skin, pushes your shoulders down and makes your heart smile.
Millpond Moon is perhaps the most natural and organic album-release you have heard in Americana in years. Back to the more low-key and intimate from their fantastic "Broke In Brooklyn" album from 2012, this is music for you who like the low-key in Emmylou Harris, Julie & Buddy Miller, Alison Krauss & Union Station, and dare we add Kate & Anna McGarrigle. They are kind of related to all of them, and you do not arrive here without having gone a long way and lived a long life with acoustic music and American singing traditions.
Kjersti Misje is a trained vocal-teacher with the jazz tradition as a special field, and it adds to Millpond Moons Americana a sensuality and heart-felt presence in the way she uses her voice, which in my book is in a rare class among Norwegian singers. Radka Toneff is never far away in my mind!
Rune Hauge has written all the songs himself, and they were all written before the pandemic hit. The recordings were made between 2014 and 2018, and it still smells lush and fine-tuned country / americana / folk / bluegrass that you associate more strongly with Nashville and The Appalachian mountains more than Bergen and it’s seven mountains. Pure honest and genuine music that feels like a perfect soundtrack for the late intimate summer evenings, where lyrics from life's close turns moves you if you choose to open your ears to the lyrics and not just follow the incredibly lush sound and flow of the instrument performances. This is really high class! I'm sorry, I just have to repeat myself.
Everything is arranged acoustically and with finesse and soul. You will get stuck in Millpond Moon's net relatively quickly if you have a good stereo and the ability to immerse yourself into the music. Close your eyes, keep the wine glass within reach, feel the acoustic notes and lyrics strike you with an immediate sense of harmony and tranquility and luxurious pleasure! Millpond Moon deserves awards and distinctions from Halden to Bergen and Nashville, but most of all that you discover them! For I have said it before about Millpond Moon that they should have been prescribed on free prescription.
The musical crop they deliver with their acoustic instruments is quality assured by some of the finest American musicians in this form of music. Appearing on the album is the highly sought after percussionist Kenny Malone, known from hundreds of recordings. Among others with Bela Fleck and Alison Krauss as well as the solo records of Jerry Douglas. Bluegrass phantom Andy Leftwich, who has won a Grammy four times for his instrumental playing the fiddle and mandolin, is known from bluegrass master Ricky Skaggs' band. Mark Fain who has won a Grammy seven times for his bass playing with Ry Cooder, Alison Krauss, Dolly Parton, Alan Jackson and god knows who. Dobro virtuoso Rob Ickes who already in 2013 was named Dobro Player Of The Year 15 times and has played on records for everyone from Willie Nelson to Alison Krauss, Merle Haggard and Sheryl Crow. And finally, the accordion legend of them all from Nashville, Jeff Taylor. He has played on recordings with so many greats that we can not include a fraction, but only mentions Patsy Cline, Elvis Costello, Paul Simon, George Strait and Vince Gill. Take a breath, and read the list of musicians over again. Is this possible? Yes it is, and that's one of the reasons why this album sounds like a million dollars. But the main reason is Rune Hauge and Kjersti Misje. That they are so dedicated to this form of music that it is almost incomprehensible that music can sound so timeless, authentic and rich.
Fatea Magazine, U.K.
Music quite often has the capacity to surprise the listener and throw a bit of a curve ball. The latest album, sent to me for review, has certainly managed to throw that ball. Norway is not a country that is widely recognised for its production of popular music and certainly not that of modern country, but Millpond Moon have gone a long way to redress that balance and destroy the myth.
The Norwegian duo of Rune Hauge and Kjersti Misje are Millpond Moon and together they have delivered a sublime sounding album of ten songs all written by Rune. Supported by a bunch of talented musicians providing mandolin, fiddle, dobro, and percussion to supplement the guitar and vocals of Rune and Kjersti, the end result is a harmonious blend of soft and gentle modern country music.
The pair have been working together since 1996 after Kjersti had left University although by that time Rune had already made a name for himself in the music industry. In the intervening years, the duo has released three albums and appeared at the Glastonbury Festival. The current album was recorded over a four-year period in Nashville, Norway and Spain.
The opening track, "Just before Dawn" with its superb guitar intro, had me hooked immediately and the rest of the album was equally listenable. The duo have total trust in each other's abilities and work brilliantly together in both musical and lyrical harmony. "All My Life" sums up the pair's approach to life and how music is both the core and the secret to its joys. The almost classical guitar backing adds a pure touch of class to the track.
"Your Island" is a beautiful song about friendship, support and giving hope, which at the current time of crisis in Ukraine seems to be a perfect ethos to offer. "Reach out and I'll be there" are the lyrics that sum it up perfectly.
Overall, a delightful and contemplative album to add to any home music collection from a duo with immense talent and sincerity.
A delightful album by Millpond Moon from Norway. A duo formed by the expert guitarist, singer and songwriter Rune Hauge with the enchanting voice of Kjersti Misje. Their third album is recorded in the United States, Norway and Spain.
"Sweeter Than Wine" has a delightful acoustic mood between country and bluegrass influences and uses well-known names from the American roots scene. From the excellent fiddle and mandolin of Andy Leftwich to the dobro of Rob Ickes, passing through the percussion of another 'Nashville cat' like Kenny Malone, Mark Fain's bass and Jeff Taylor's accordion. Very interesting songs on an impeccable production produced by Millpond Moon.
All ten songs on the album are in fact the result of the songwriting talent of Rune Hauge, capable of evoking the best American roots music with surprising genuinity.
The sweet arpeggio of acoustic guitars, the delicate interventions of fiddle and dobro, are the basis of "Just Before Dawn», which opens the album in a great manner.
One of the moments that remains in my heart is «I’ll Do Anything To See You Smile». It’s a breath of fresh air with its very enjoyable bluegrass feeling, where the dobro and mandolin solos embellishes the whole song.
"Fallen On Strange Times" is an intense and engaging ballad, as well as "Don't Ever Make That Right” that delves deep into emotions, always delightfully acoustic.
Also noteworthy is the refinement of "The Last Duel" with all the guitar class of Rune Hauge and the grace of Kjersti Misje on vocals. The nostalgic "Don't Leave Now" with Hispanic accents between Jeff Taylor's accordion and the acoustic guitar - once again strongly expressive.
A record that caresses and enchants, full of warmth and class.
Imagine having artists of this caliber in our NEIGHBORING COUNTRY
The Norwegian duo Millpond Moons has released their third album Sweeter Than Wine 2022-03-18. The duo Millpond Moon is RUNE HAUGE and KJERSTI MISJE, Norway.
All the songs are written by Rune Hauge and was recorded March 2014 to March 2018 in Nashville, USA and Bergen and Oslo, Norway - but also in Andalucia, Spain. Six other fellow musicians take part in the recordings. Millpond Moon has released BROKE IN BROOKLYN in 2012 and TIME TO TURN THE TIDE in 2015.
It’s a very BUDDY & JULIE MILLER feeling this time too. When I heard Millpond Moon for the first time on their debut album from 2014, which I reviewed on www.nyaskivor.se, I was very impressed to think about having artists of that caliber in our NEIGHBORING COUNTRY.
When their second album that came in 2015, reviewed on www.nyaskivor.se, I was also satisfied and happy. When Sweeter Than Wine arrived, it was not disappointing now that the duo also has a high level in my opinion, now that Rune Hauge has written all the songs himself.
Songs to start with: Nr1 Just Before Dawn, Nr3 I´ll Do Anything To See You Smile, Nr6 All My Life.
Country Jukebox, Germany
Max W Achatz
With the two albums Broke In Brooklyn and Time To Turn The Tide , the Norwegian singer/songwriter duo - MILLPOND MOON - consisting of Kjersti Misje and Rune Hauge, have emerged from the underground and expanded beyond the borders of their homeland and made a name for themselves in the Americana/Roots/ Folk circles .
With the beautiful "Just Before Dawn" - and its exquisite guitar intro - Millpond Moon open their third piece of art: the latest release, titled Sweeter Than Wine , was written over a four-year period in Nashville, Bergen, Oslo and Andalusia, Spain - bringing us ten songs all written by Rune.
Every minute you notice that the ten new songs you are dealing with is a perfectly coordinated team, as also the musicians involved in the production, including recognized greats such as Andy Leftwich (fiddle, mandolin) and Rob Ickes (dobro), contribute significantly to the excellent overall impression - this is what the finest Americana/Folk music can and must sound like.
“Sweeter Than Wine” by the Norwegian Americana duo Millpond Moon from Bergen, is a brand new album that was recorded some time ago. According to the information accompanying the CD, the songs performed by singer-guitarist Kjersti Misje and singer-guitarist and songwriter Rune Hauge were already recorded during the four-year period from March 2014 to March 2018 at various studios in Nashville, Tennessee, Spain. Andalucia and in the Norwegian cities of Bergen and Oslo.
The musicians who assisted them during this recording were Andy Leftwich on mandolin and violin, Kenny Malone on drums and percussion, Mark Fain on bass guitar, Rob Ickes on dobro and Jeff Taylor on accordion. The genre that 'Millpond Moon' brings in their songs can best be described as folk and roots music. In Norway, Rune Hauge is also known as a presenter and compiler of two successful music television series in which he received several famous guests such as Emmylou Harris, Townes Van Zandt, Paul Brady, Richard Thompson and Tony Joe White.
Rune Hauge first released a few solo albums before forming the duo 'Millpond Moon' with Kjersti Misje and taking the stage of the 'Glastonbury Festival' in 2004. Their first album “Broke In Brooklyn” was released in 2012 and three years later there was a follow-up with the second album “Time To Turn The Tide”. Their vocal blending in the songs with very different voice timbres became the trademark of 'Millpond Moon' and that is certainly the case again in the ten songs they perform on their new record "Sweeter Than Wine".
In the videos, we introduce you to their new work through two songs from this record: first they perform the country waltz “Fallen On Strange Times” and then the melodic folk song “All My Life”, two songs that they both perform in duet form. Both songs are instrumentally accompanied by excellent 'fingerpicking' acoustic guitar playing by Rune Hauge. Kjersti Misje sings the lead vocals solo in the six and a half minute long song “The Last Duel” but they share the vocal work afterwards on “Don't Ever Make That Right”, the folk ballads “Your Island” and “Don' t Leave Now” and in the beautiful album title track “Sweeter Than Wine”.