ANNEKE VAN GIERSBERGEN / AGUA DE ANNIQUE – Pure Air (2009)

Review by: Roland Bruynesteyn
Album assigned by: Nina Anatchkova

Never heard of her, although she comes from the same country as I do. Slightly confused when the assignment came with the warning that she had a ‘generic heavy metal past’. Arjen Lucassen (aka Aeryon), Danny Cavanagh (Anathema) and Sharon den Adel (from Within Temptation fame), artists I all quite like, do guest which seems to confirm that we get some very heavy but melodic proggy music.
 
Boy, was I wrong! This is very nice acoustic folk/pop and she has a lovely voice. Quite high, sometimes sounding a little girly / tentative, as if she’s looking for the right tone (or words), all in all very charming. 

Even the best voices can sound a little boring if it’s just an acoustic guitar (imagine David Crosby solo acoustic for an hour), but luckily, four songs in, more instruments are added, and many songs have some (male or female) backing vocals.
 
Come Wander with Me, with subtle trumpet by Kyteman is a highlight for me. He’s no Miles Davis, but he gets the melancholy across. To Catch a Thief, a duet with John Wetton, is the lowlight for me. If it’s the John Wetton I know, his voice is OK for his age, but the two voices just do not sound right together. Bad idea of the producer, I fear…
 
I read that some of the songs are covers, and some are reworkings of her own songs. I do not know the originals, so I judge all songs as new songs, except for two: Ironic and The Power of Love. Ironic is an Alanis Morissette song that was a big hit way back when. It’s a good song, but it’s a lot like a feminists’ Hallelujah: it’s covered way too often. This unplugged version loses much of the anger in the original and doesn’t really add anything to the song or the album.
 
The Power of Love was the ultimate 80’s power ballad by Frankie goes to Hollywood, with everything that goes with it. Like most power ballads, it loses most if not all of its power in a simple, low profile rearrangement. It sounds flat and is definitely one of the worst songs on the album.
 
So, I do think she needs some advice on her choice of songs to include on an album. Picking songs from your own youth or songs that otherwise mean a lot to you personally, is not necessarily a good thing. On the whole however, I’m pleasantly surprised by Anneke: she can sing, she can perform, and if this is a new direction for her it’s definitely worth pursuing some more.
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Author: tomymostalas

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