12 years have passed since John Norum’s last solo album, the exceptional “Play Yard Blues”. The Swedish guitarist has been busy, of course, with the mighty Europe but the truth is that all of us who love the harder and rockier side of this band we were impatiently waiting for Norum’s recording return! Not only did he deliver the goods but I gotta tell you right from the start that “Gone To Stay” is one of the best albums of 2022! Yeap, you read it right…John Norum did it again!

“Gone To Stay” is one of those extremely rare cases where the artist doesn’t pay any attention to the surrounding musical landscape and just follows his heart; there are moments on the album where you think that this could have easily been released in the mid-90s right after “Another Dimension”. Norum succeeds in crafting songs that balance perfectly in between two worlds: the blues and the pure hard rock sound. His voice is clearly improved while Wig Wam’s Age Stin Nilsen is really great on the three songs that he’s featured on. All the songs are catchy and the production creates an amazing atmosphere which is rare nowadays. The opening “Voices of Silence”, “Sail On” (which could have easily be an Audioslave track), “Norma” (the best cut on the album) and the wonderful rendition of Bowie’s classic “Lady grinning soul” are the definite highlights. It goes without saying that John Norum is absolutely flawless on his guitar duties.

We say it again just in case it passed unnoticed: “Gone To Stay” is one of the best hard rock albums of 2022. Welcome back, John…we missed you!

Highlight: Also, we find on the album a slow version of “Face The Truth”; a good one although I gotta say that I prefer the original take with Glenn Hughes behind the mic.