Album Review

Roots - Both Celtic and Norwegian

Tempest - The Tracks We Leave

Some bands are just meant to be seen live. The Rolling Stones and The Grateful Dead come to mind. Not that you can't enjoy their recorded music. Just the opposite. Having seen one of these bands live adds something special to listening to their CDs. Tempest is one of those bands. I have seen them perform live a number of times. I’ve caught and photographed them in music festival and concert venues. They knocked my socks off regardless of the size of the stage. Actually, they often leave the stage to play in the audience. They play live with an energy, drive, and passion that comes from their love of the music and their desire to deliver that music to the audience with the fervor they feel. And deliver it they do.

So, now that brings us to their new CD, The Tracks We Leave. I looked forward to listening to it to see how it compared to their live shows. Now that really wasn’t fair but what was fair was listening with the memories of their live shows in mind. Doing so wasn’t a conscious thing, it happens automatically when listening to one of those bands meant to be seen live.

It is what I meant by the something special added to the listening. Those wonderfully vivid memories of a performance on stage that happily affected you continues to do so when listening to their CD. 

Does that happen with Tempest? Absolutely! The new CD is a mix of traditional celtic tunes and original songs written or co-written by Lief Sorbye, the band’s founder and leader. Lief even throws in a traditional song from his Noregian roots “Alle Mann Hadde Fota” telling the tale of a woman who made body parts for her husband. Right from the start with the traditional “Rantin' Rovin’ Robin” my mind takes me back to seeing them on stage. And….I love that.

The title track “The Tracks We Leave” written by Sorbye/Reynolds was inspired by a trip into the mountains of Norway as well as a proverb of the Dakota Souix. The story of your life is told in the tracks you leave. A beautiful song featuring a ancient Scandinavian rooh. Lovely and very dreamy. “September Jig” another song written by Lief sounds very much like a traditional Jig and I can imagine the band dancing around the stage.

San Francisco is the home town for Tempest and “Fog on the Bay” written by and featuring Sorbey on flute is lively and totally enjoyable.

I’m going to leave the rest for you to discover but believe me, If you have seen then live you will love the CD. If you haven’t you will still love the CD and I hope it inspires you to catch them live in concert. Let me finally say this isn’t just traditional music. This band rocks. CDs and tour dates are available at I will be photographing them again at the Philadelphia Folk Festival in August. See pictures of them in concert at

Tempest - The Tracks We Leave (Magna Carta Records)

Mark J. Smith