Sure, Erik Oftedahl (pronounced ‘off-tə-doll) is from Minnesota; always has been, always will be.
But for the last seven years he’s called Oklahoma home, grown exponentially as a songwriter, and shed old skin, becoming a refined version of himself. All reasons why Oftedahl has decided to drop the ‘Erik the Viking’ moniker, at least for now, and go full-tilt on the given brand, just in time for the release of his long awaited LP, Places, set for an August 2018 release on Horton Records. In other words, it’s time to get serious, and with Places, Oftedahl means business.
Places has been a stop-again-start-again demo-turned-full length album recorded at co-produced by Oftedahl, Chris Bell and Jason Scott in studios across Oklahoma (Sapulpa, Moore and Stillwater to be exact). The album features appearances by Bell (bass), Scott (vocals, mandolin), James Purdy (drums), Ryan McCall (guitar), Scott Hunt (fiddle), John Calvin Abney (keys), and Carter Sampson (vocals).
Oftedahl self-released a pair of EPs that caused a bit of a stir, 2011s Dead Horses and 2016s Painting in the Dark, but Places will undoubtedly propel Erik to new heights; it’s calmly anthemic, with infectious lyrics that carefully bloom throughout the verses and choruses like an articulately groomed garden.
Or plantation; as found in “Farmer”, the lengthiest cut on the new album and Oftedahl’s crown jewel to-date, borne of a dream state that found the transplant once again sitting at a crossroads talking to an old man about his problems, only to realize his ‘problems’ were meager compared to the drought, floods and famine suffered by the elder.
“It’s the best song I’ve written from a writing standpoint,” points the 37-year-old soul, “and it’s a subtle reminder to worry less about the things completely out of my control.”
The lone co-write on the album, “Prayer for the Damned”, was penned in part by Sarah Squires, and is poised to get radio play with its lush harmonies and urgent message.
“There was this story we heard on NPR about a sailor who had been slowly watching the world’s oceans die while adrift at sea; as if we needed any more motivation to take action, we came up with ‘Prayer’ as a serious response; serious as a heart attack.”
The sweet, country-fried title track professes, “Been a lot of towns, lived a lot of places; nothing makes smile like waking up to your face…tired of all the miles tired of all the social graces; when I’m next to you, baby that’s my place.”
While a jack of many trades (from food service industry to on-site festival support specialist to relentless self-promoter/booking agent), it’s evident that Oftedahl is carefully mastering his song craft…and now he’s open for business.