Lonesome Highway review Final Refuge

An invitation by Van Morrison to be his opening act is a compliment any singer songwriter would be proud of. Such was the positive impression Ad Vanderveen’s 2017 album WORLDS WITHIN made on Van the Man, that this gesture was made by him and gratefully accepted.

Dutch born but with Canadian parentage, Vanderveen has been performing solo, as a duo with Kersten de Ligny and with his electric band The O’Neils, throughout a career that spans over twenty-five years and boasts over thirty albums. Despite that output and its quality, he remains very much under the radar yet hugely regarded by his peers, which includes John Gorka, Dave Olney, Eliza Gilkyson and writer Joe Boyd, to name but a few.

His latest offering is an impressive collection of eleven songs, uncomplicated stories that visit simple every day occurrences, yet demand your undivided attention. Whereas many artists draw you in initially with melody, Vanderveen, in classic singer songwriter style, stops you in your tracks with his lyrics.

Dylan’s ‘Every Grain Of Sand’ is remodelled and covered, but it’s the original material that stands out. ‘Know Yourself’ certainly does just that, a reminder of the power of our inner selves and our capabilities to self-cleanse and survive. ‘Tinytown’ revisits times gone by and considers how particular people and places change over time, yet others appear timeless. ‘Coming Home’ has a mid-70’s California ring to it. ‘The Signet Ring’, the album’s most powerful track, speaks of a broken and detached family and a path to forgiveness and healing.

You get the impression that Vanderveen never had ambitions to be a household name. More important to him has been his carefully measured and refined writing, always without compromise. He has achieved this once again with FINAL REFUGE, another delightful chapter of stories, impressively put to music.

Review by Declan Culliton – Lonesome Highway