If you haven’t heard Danish singer songwriter Hjalte Ross before, Thinking About You, his latest track, is a good place to start. Opening with an upbeat blast of brass that gives way to Ross’s surprisingly deep and soulful vocals, the path leads you further on into a gorgeously expansive piano section. Thinking About You takes you on a journey. Underpinning the very foundation of the song is its insistent beat, creating tension, echoing and emphasising the restless search for onward motion.
Thinking About You was written in a Norwegian lighthouse which stands on a chunk of rock on the remote Lofoten Islands. Pre isolation solitude. It was here that Ross pieced together Waves of Haste, his second album, to be released on 27 November; naturally the waves become the theme of the work, a metaphor for the journeys we take in life, an idea he explores through the course of the album.
By way of complete geographical contrast, Ross travelled on from his remote lighthouse home to immerse himself in New York City where he mixed the album with Daniel Goodwin (who has worked with Kevin Morby), in order to skilfully blend the two opposing elements into his music. “Travelling and staying in new places sets the creative parts in motion, it gives a perspective to things,” he says. “I wanted to embrace the city music I could hear in these new songs.”
The upcoming album Waves of Haste, which follows the Danish songwriter’s 2018 debut LP Embody, was once again recorded with legendary producer John Wood in Sebbersund near Ross’s childhood home. Wood has worked with numerous artists such as Pink Floyd, Nico, Fairport Convention, Incredible String Band and Nick Drake. Wood asked Ross if he could work with him after Ross had got in touch to ask for advice. There are certainly echoes of Nick Drake’s deep, warm vocal delivery in Ross’s songs.
This new work is more upbeat than Ross’s previous work. And there’s a new sense of confidence, an extra bite to the lyrics, an extra depth to that unhurried voice. “I have become a better songwriter, a better singer, and a better guitar player,” Hjalte emphasises.