Album review: ANNEKE VAN GIERSBERGEN – The Darkest Skies Are The Brightest

 ANNEKE VAN GIERSBERGEN - The Darkest Skies Are The Brightest

InsideOut Music [Release date 26.02.21]

There is no doubt that some of the best music is made as a result of emotional adversity.  This explains why we cannot, perhaps, expect any great emotional pull from aged rockers who are more resolved to maximising their back catalogue and topping up their state pensions.  Old rockers tend to be angry, or creatively impotent.

Anneke van Giersbergen is best known as the frontwoman of Dutch metallers The Gathering, whom she left in 2007 for a solo career.  But in 2018 her marriage was on the skids and this has ushered in a particularly emotional, reflective, and heartfelt album.  And it’s beautiful.

It’s never easy for front ladies of metal rockers to strike out on their own.  There’ll either be an expectation of more of the same or a reaction against more diversity.  Tarja has earned cudos for her more classical excursions whilst fans may long for her original Nightwish style, Anette Olzon tried a more mainstream album, (and a really good one), with little success and then went back to a more symphonic/prog metal arrangement.

Giersbergen’s approach here is some way removed from her previous albums.  The opener ‘Agape’ is one of the best love songs I’ve heard for ages, percolated by a lovely string arrangement,  whilst ‘Hurricane’ digests the turmoil in her personal life in the past couple of years.  Not least she was involved with the band Vuur and took some financial risks to further their music on the road.

‘My Promise’ is simply superb, and enhanced as ever by Giersbergen’s alluring vocals, a seemingly Dutch disposition also conveyed by the likes of Delain’s Charlotte Wessels.  This song is again enhanced by an entrancing string section.

A song like ‘I Saw A Car’ is deceptively simple in proposition but is very infectious in execution in a folksy sort of way – as is ‘Keep It Simple’ -  whilst songs like ‘The Soul Knows’,  ‘The End’, and ‘Losing You’ are straight forward out of love songs.

In a week that sees Arlo Parks headlining the Graham Norton and Jools Holland BBC TV shows and touted as the future of music (there’s no accounting for poor, disillusioned taste and at the licence payers’ expense), Anneke shines through.

Many will say that Giersbergen hasn’t really achieved the wider recognition she deserves.  “The Darkest Skies…” may be the album of much more wider acceptance.  Simply lovely.  And for anyone who has loved and lost and loved again.  *****

Review by David Randall

The latest Facebook Live session from Canadian singer-songwriter Josh Taerk Sunday 21 February, 16:00 EST, 21:00 GMT

More about Josh:

David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 BST (GMT+1, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 7 February 2021 and includes the Top 10 albums at for that week.

UK Blues Broadcaster of the Year (2020) Pete Feenstra presents his weekly Rock & Blues Show on Tuesday at 19:00 ( BST, GMT+1) as part of a five hour blues rock marathon “Tuesday is Bluesday at GRTR!”. The show is repeated on Wednesdays at 22:00, Fridays at 20:00). This show was first broadcast 26 January 2021.

Listen in to Get Ready to ROCK! Radio…
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Featured Albums w/c 22 February 2021 (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 RADAR Lost In The Atlantic (Escape Music)
12:00-13:00 DURBIN The Beast Awakens (Frontiers)
14:00-16:00 ANNEKE VAN GIERSBERGEN – The Darkest Days Are The Brightest (InsideOut Music)

Power Plays w/c 22 February 2021 (Mon-Fri)


ALLY VENABLE Road To Nowhere

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