For more than 20 years this renowned Dutch singer-songwriter has been one of the most consistent and reliable artists on the roots rock/Americana scene. Hardly a year goes by without a release from him, some years there may even be two CDs or a double album. The original plan for 2015 was to tackle a long-planned project and record new versions of his most-requested songs at live shows: But during the year-long recording process he experienced bursts of creativity and wrote song after song. Thus we now get a new Ad Vanderveen opus featuring two CDs in lovely packaging entitled Presents Of The Past/Requests Revisited.
Ad Vanderveen was born in 1956 in Hilversum/Netherlands but half of his family hails from Canada. And obviously, those are the genes that make themselves heard. Since the early 1990ies he has been bringing his music to clubs all around Europe, later on all around the world. These days, along with Hank Shizzoe, Markus Rill and Iain Matthews (all of them fellow Blue Rose artists), he is one of the foremost European musicians with close ties to the American storyteller culture. Ad Vanderveen is a very communicative type who enjoys collaborations. On more than twenty albums and in uncountable live shows he has collaborated with top-shelf artists like Eric Andersen, David Olney, Al Kooper, Herman Brood and Eliza Gilkyson. In recent years he enjoys performing with his partner, talented singer Kersten DeLigny, and from time to time he reactivates the Iain Ad Venture (with Iain Matthews).
His new album is dedicated to relaxed, mostly acoustically arranged Americana, cementing Ad Vanderveen’s reputation as a keen-eyed, detailed lyricist and versatile performer. With his voice and instruments he is able to convey mood and atmosphere in a way that only the greats of the genre can: Guy Clark, Rodney Crowell, Gordon Lightfoot, Townes Van Zandt, and, yes indeed, Neil Young. The CD with ten new, self-penned songs starts with ‘Welcome To my Kitchen’ with acoustic guitar, striking dobro and Vanderveen’s mature, earthy, storytelling voice. The following title track adds discreet percussion, lap steel and Kersten DeLigny’s beautiful voice to the mix. ‘Well That Never Runs Dry’ captures the early 70ies Dylan/Young sound with slightly more opulent instrumentation including harmonica, banjo, organ, backing vocals, a delicate electric solo and a meandering acoustic country rhythm not far from Blood On The Tracks or Harvest. And so it goes: ‘Long Ride’, the John Prine-y ‘Small Time Real Life Stories’, the banjo-and-accordion-framed ‘Another Life’, ‘The Future Has Changed’ with percussion, sparkling piano, harmonica and enchanting duet vocals by Lynn Miles. This all sounds organic, natural, effortless. ‘Music Waiting For The Words’ follows, a lesson from the songwriter’s workshop, ‘World So Crowded’ and the moving finale ‘Sister’, a sensitive folk ballad, Townes van Zandt-style.
Seamlessly Vanderveen segues to Requests Revisited, this remarkable double album’s second disc. This batch of ten re-recorded songs starts with a brisk country-rock version of ‘First Feeling’. ‘Anchor’ with its complex phrasing may remind listeners of David Crosby. This composition’s mystical character is supported by a string trio, DeLigny’s harmonies and sparkles of electric guitar. ‘Blues So Bad’ features great dobro/bottleneck parts while ‘Emigrant Family’ is an extremely laid-back acoustic country rock number a la Neil Young and Nicolette Larson. ‘The Moment That Matters’ has been rearranged into a profound ballad with piano and strings. ‘Well Of Wonder’ comes back as a pedal steel-drenched alt.country noir hymn before it shifts gears into an electric powerhouse, halfway through the eight-minute epic. ‘Soul Power’ – on stage often loose and extended – morphs into a tight three-minute stomper. ‘Wonders Of The World’ is an elegiac piano number, once more demonstrating Ad Vanderveen’s fondness for Neil Young while ‘Driftwood’ emerges as a melodic Americana/folk rocker.
In the meantime the Dutchman has shed his folkie skin and plugged in for real. The official album closer ‘Still Now’ leads into a long feedback fade before the epic, hidden bonus track ‘Water Under The Bridge’ in the course of its 19:57 minutes (!) mutates into a mighty amalgam of ‘Cortez The Killer’ and ‘Like A Hurricane’ while Ad Vanderveen leads a big band rockestra with four electric guitarists, keyboarder, bassist and drummer incorporating an American studio session featuring Leland Sklar and Harry Stinson – what an amazing finish!
Big parts of Presents Of The Past were recorded live in the Acoustic Alley of the Theater de Steeg in Den Haag. Overdubs and the sessions for Requests Revisited were recorded at Seafront Music Studio in Den Haag. Vanderveen plays most instruments: acoustic & electric guitars, banjo, harmonica, autoharp, bass and percussion. Kersten DeLigny provides her essential backing vocals. Seafront owner, co-producer and multi-instrumentalist Rene Kaaij (drums, bass, keyboards, accordion, percussion, backing vocals), Timon Van Heerdt (acoustic bass, lap steel, mandoline) and Rob Van Duuren (Pedal Steel) also contribute to this great project that will further enhance Ad Vanderveen’s standing in the international Americana scene.