Here’s another of my favourite albums from 2013, from my favourite singer Anneke Van Giersbergen. Since leaving the Gathering after a thirteen year stint in 2007 she has been a very busy woman, releasing six solo albums, including a live album and a collection of acoustic versions of her songs and covers, as well as collaborating with a lot of artists, including Devin Townsend, Anathema, Within Tempation, DJ Hidden, Danny Cavanagh and more. Added to that she’s constantly touring, whether it’s with her own band, solo acoustic shows, or playing with Devin Townsend or Danny Cavanagh, she’s always playing music. With such a wide range of artists she collaborates with, and different styles she sings in, she has a really varied voice, suiting every style she tries her hand at perfectly. She simply has one of the most perfect voices I’ve heard in music, but added to that is her character. Every song she sings on, and whoever she sings it with is sung with 110% sincerity and passion, her love for what she does shines through in every song she sings, she’s one of the most genuine people in music today.
Which brings me to her latest album Drive. From formerly being a part of a band as genius as The Gathering, who evolved their sound from album to album brilliantly, she’s done the same throughout her solo career, never making the same album twice, always learning and changing, making each album unique. After the progressive tinges which were present on previous album Everything is Changing, she has evolved further with Drive an album that firmly places itself in the ‘pop rock’ genre. Throughout the years, pop has become a dirty word, with the music industry churning out completely vapid material, so that when an artist makes anything poppy, it’s instantly seen as a negative connotation. But Anneke shows that it simply doesn’t have to be that way, and on this album, she brings all of her aforementioned character, sincerity and genuine love of music to to the table, and so rather than being soulless and dull as a lot of pop is, it’s a brilliant shining album of catchy upbeat poppy rock songs, from one of the best singers around, backed up by a fantastic band and great music.
Lyrically the album is fantastic, with Anneke’s songwriting being really upbeat. With titles such as We Live On, Shooting for the Stars, Treat me like a Lady, The Best is yet to Come and Drive, first glance would suggest they would be clichéd and dull, but actually they are really heartfelt and emotional songs. Sincere and upbeat throughout, it’s hard not to smile at the lyrics, especially for She, We Live on, and Shooting for the Stars. They’re really simple, but just lovely and happy, just about how you have to keep going in lifewhen everything gets you down. And sometimes we just need songs like that, especially We Live On! Another excellent song lyrically is My Mother Said, an autobiographical song about her parents, its a really sweet song about how important family is, it’s incredibly heartfelt.
Musically, Drive builds on the progressive tendencies of the previous album Everything is Changing, making them more pronounced and improving upon them. With excellent guitar riffs throughout the album, especially the heavy opening riff from Treat me like a Lady, and the almost unfathomably catchy title track Drive, the guitars are not only really catchy, but really well unique sounding, and they’re produced so much better too. Having worked with the producing genius Devin Townsend on two albums, the man who has one of the most unique production styles in the business, you can tell she’s learned a lot from him straight away. The production is incredibly warm, and the album has a really full sound, and this really brings out more of the excellent riffs, making it a great catchy album. There have always been great riffs on her albums, and on this one they’re definitely just as good, but with the better production making the music as a whole more complete it just brings them out more. As for the drumming, there’s no doubt that this is Rob’s best performance with the band so far. With an incredibly powerful performance, especially on She and Forgive Me, his performance is really dynamic, and it definitely drives 😉 the album along. The music here is just great in general, there’s excellent catchy song writing throughout, except as a whole Forgive Me comes out a little short compared to the others. It’s still a good track, but not as great as some of the others here.
But last, but definitely not least, the voice. Anyone who’s heard Anneke sing before knows just what a unique and beautiful voice she has. On Drive this is no different, Anneke’s performance is nothing short of amazing. Her voice goes from soft and beautiful to powerful and anthemic perfectly, and her style is really dynamic. Her voice is unique and all her own, with an incredible range, with just the hint of her Dutch accent really adding to how lovely her voice is, but perhaps most importantly, along with the fantastic voice, is the genuineness, character and sincerity that comes across in every lyric she sings, and not just on Drive, but on all her material.
There are so many great tracks on the album, and they’re so varied that it’s impossible to pick a favourite. There’s the surging, catchy rush of Drive, the sweetness of My Mother Said, and the excellent balance of heaviness and pop sensibilities of Treat me Like a Lady. The power of the uplifting, drum driven, cool performance of She, while Shooting for the Stars has lovely uplifting lyrics and a belter of a performance, immensely powerful and emotional. Mental Jungle features a guest performance form Hayko Cepkin which adds an exotic atmosphere, You will never Change is a really great pop song which was always going to be the live hit song it’s since became, while the closer The Best is Yet to Come is another poppy gem, powerful and uplifting, and a great way to close a great album. With the production on the album being so incredibly warm and complete, it just adds to the loveliness of the overall sound, it sounds full and perfectly done.
Drive is simply a great album from the best female singer going. It’s powerful, uplifting, charming and brilliant. Extremely heartfelt and sincere, you’d be hard pressed to find a more perfect straight forward rock album from last year, or indeed, many preceding years.
Listen to opening track We Live on:
If you can make it, then go and see Anneke on tour, she’s an excellent performer, and always makes time to speak to the fans after the show.
APR 01 IT Zona Roveri – BOLOGNA
APR 02 IT Apartamento Hoffman – CONEGLIANO VENETO
APR 03 AT Arena – VIENNA
APR 04 HU Club 202 – BUDAPEST
APR 05 CZ Masters of Rock Cafe – ZLIN
APR 07 SK Randal – BRATISLAVA
APR 08 PL Kwadrat – KRAKOW
APR 09 PL Firlej – WROCLAW
APR 10 DE K17 – BERLIN
APR 11 DE Lux – HANNOVER
APR 12 DE Zeche Carl – ESSEN
01 We Live On
02 Treat Me Like A Lady
05 My Mother Said
06 Forgive Me
07 You Will Never Change
08 Mental Jungle
09 Shooting For The Stars
10 The Best Is Yet To Come