Ad Vanderveen – Treasure Keepers (Continental Record Services)
Treasure Keepers is Ad Vanderveen’s 14th album but there’s something different. This time he’s pared everything back and in keeping with the times we are in, gives a performance of one in solitude and desperate to regain contact.
He opens with David And Goliath, a tribute to his mentor, David Olney, who passed away recently. It’s just Ad and his guitar on this Folk song and you can feel the respect for his friend coming through.
The title track has more sedate sounds although a little bit of harmonica does change the perspective in parts. The overall effect is one of having him play in your front lounge.
One thing you can expect from Vanderveen is a story and End Of Me And You is a fine example of his art. He remains on the Folksy side of things as he channels the singer/songwriters that have gone before such as Dylan and Guthrie.
If you like to sit and listen to a guy with an acoustic guitar singing stories that you can relate to then Ad is your man. As often with the man, the lyric is more important than the melody and on Sixty Thousand Thoughts he brings some of his finest. There’s only so much that you can do with an acoustic guitar so attention turns to his voice and his expressive delivery fits well on this Americana tinged track.
Death Is For Others is back to guitar and harmonica, the staples of the singer/songwriter. I think we all had ambitions in those areas when we were young. No? Just me then? I’m not taking anything away from this song which is definitely in the mould of Bob Dylan and could easily have made it onto one of his albums, it’s that good.
The achingly beautiful Looking Through Your Eyes has Neil Young influences all over it whereas stark voiced Puppet Show appears to be an allegory (you make up your own mind about who) with a vibraphone or something similar backing him up.
He’s back on guitar for Times Like These, another musically Americana tinged song with a plaintive Neil Young style vocal. Ad sings “Come out of this a better world” – we can only hope.
Guy Clark and Slaid Cleaves come to mind on If I Can Do It, So Can You, another in the Americana style both in tone and subject. It’s the only full cover on the album and is included because of its life changing effect that it had on Ad in the late 70s.
On looking at the title, Lonely You Are, I wondered if Yoda had taken over the songwriting. I am only joking, of course. Electric guitar makes a first appearance as a counterpoint to Ad’s vocal. We get some harmonica too but it all feels very unadorned.
The closing track of this first real solo album from Ad is Motherland and there’s a bit of noise to this. It’s actually a version of the Dutch national anthem with words added by Ad. Grungy electric guitar gives a bleak feeling but I can imagine a speeded up version of this being quite upbeat. However, the slow pace fits in with the rest of the album as Ad, I believe, is making a point that 2020 has been nothing to cheer about.
Ad’s own words on the album, “I’ve often heard myself say ‘a song should be able to stand on its own two feet, but I’d never really made a record like that. It was time to practise what I preach: one shot on the spot with no overdubs – a bold and daring choice if I do say so myself – and if a song wouldn’t stand up to it, it simply wouldn’t come to life. It took a sense of ruthless vulnerability to present my new material in this way that turned out feeling very rewarding”. I think he’s proved his point.