Album review: ANNEKE VAN GIERSBERGEN – Drive

Inside Out – Out Now

I have always been a strong supporter of the idea that the boundaries which separate the average musician from the real artist are strict and always clearly defined. Those who belong in the former category often restrict their artistic urges in the hope of commercial success and/or the ongoing acceptance and support from their loyal fans.

Others follow their musical vision, regardless of the consequences. Apart from being possibly the most influential singer of her generation, mainly through her work with the Dutch atmospheric metallers The Gathering, Anneke Van Giersbergen has also, in recent years, become the personification of artistic freedom and no album showcases this better than her ten-track offering “Drive”.

Pop and Rock have been equally prominent and influential on Anneke’s musical output throughout her career, but this interesting musical symbiosis acquires a brand new meaning in “Drive” – an album whose quality, variety and passion will surprise and shock the unsuspecting listener in equal terms.

As always, Anneke’s ethereal and emotionally-charged vocals are the focal point, but where this album’s real success lies is in blurring the line between Pop and Rock to such an extent that even the most hardened Rock fan might just be drawn towards a melodic interlude or a catchy chorus you might find on a Tori Amos album. Something for everybody then? That definitely is the case here, and it is all performed with both passion and gusto.

I am sure that most old-school fans will agree with me in saying how reminiscent the guitar harmonies in the opener “We Live On” are to those used by Progressive/Atmospheric metallers in the mid to late 90s and how amazing Anneke’s high register vocals still sound in  2013.

Far more commercial in its appeal and structure, “Treat Me Like A Lady” is a four minute Pop Rock anthem that features a highly addictive refrain while “She” is a simply-crafted melodic piece with a Rock edge. The second Pop anthem to truly impress me was “Drive” as I found its groovy bass lines and…dance beat(!) impossible to resist.

Having said that, it was the piano-led acoustic guitar ballad “My Mother Said”, with the possibly autobiographical lyrics, which truly stole my heart – one of the most heartfelt songs ever recorded by the Dutch singer.

The second part of the album portrays a similar approach to song-writing, with melodic little gems such as “Forgive Me” and “You Will Never Change” paving the way for the oriental-themed “Mental Jungle” – a three and a half minute composition whose main feature is an interplay between Anneke’s soulful vocals and those of a male singer.

More The Gathering influences can be found in the guitar harmonies of “Shooting For The Starts”, while the groovy drum beats of “The Best Is Yet To Come” conclude this album in celebratory and party-style fashion.

Pop is far from my chosen style of music, but there are a handful of Rock artists who can pull it off, in my opinion. Anneke Van Giersbergen is one such artist and “Drive” is the perfect example of how successful this unholy union can really become in the right hands.

With an average duration of three and a half minutes, these ten compositions will impress both with their immediacy and the quality of their melodies– all you have to do is stop any unnecessary preconceptions from clouding your judgement and what you will gain in return is a delightful musical ride.

John Stefanis

Rating: **** (4.0/5.0)

Interview (October 2013)

Throughout September 2018 Get Ready to ROCK! Radio celebrated the station’s 10th anniversary and a two-hour special reflected a decade of broadcasting. “10 years in the making” features archive interviews with Ian Anderson (Jethro Tull), Todd Rundgren, Graham Bonnet, David Coverdale, John Wetton and Bob Catley.

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Power Plays w/c 12 November 2018

STEPHEN PEARCY U Only Live Twice Frontiers)
NORTHWARD Timebomb (Nuclear Blast)
MASON HILL Hold On (indie)
RAINLIGHT Field Of Souls (indie)
EDEN’S CURSE Forever (AFM Records)

Featured Albums w/c 12 November (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 TEN Illuminati (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 NORDIC UNION Second Coming (Frontiers)
14:00-16:00 LARKIN POE Venom & Faith (Proper Music)

Albums That Time Forgot (Mon-Fri)

18:00-19:00 MAGGIE REILLY Heaven Sent (2013)

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