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Alexandra Penrhyn Lowe-®Keke Keukelaar 2012 kleinDat de fantasy-schrijfster Alexandra Penrhyn Lowe van muziek houdt is meteen duidelijk als je haar nieuwste boek ‘Wolfsbloed’ openslaat en een quote van Metallica tegenkomt. I feel I change / Back to a better day / Hair stands on the back of my neck / In wildness is the preservation of the world. / So seek the wolf in thyself.Of Wolf and Man – Metallica. Inner Ear Media peilde bij Alexandra welke muziek haar nog meer erg dierbaar is. Welk liedje draait ze altijd bij het schrijven, wat is Alexandra’s favoriete clip, welke song doet haar denken aan liefdesverdriet en wat is de soundtrack uit de jeugd van deze schrijfster?

 

 

Het ultieme jeugdsentiment: Kate Bush – ‘Wuthering Heights’

 

“’Wuthering Heights’ kwam uit in 1978 en stond lang op nummer 1 in de UK. Ik was toen drie en zo gek op dit nummer dat mijn moeder me uit bed haalde als het op tv was, zodat ik naar ‘het heksenstemmetje’ kon luisteren, zoals ik het noemde. Ik had ook een enorme poster van Kate Bush op mijn kamer en ik kreeg met kerst haar LP The Kick Inside en al was ik echt extreem jong, ik kan me nog herinneren dat ik de plaat in mijn handen had en hoe blij ik ermee was.

 

Kate Bush was, samen met de band Queen, mijn eerste muziekliefde die mijn hele leven gebleven is. Voor mij had haar stem, de woorden die ik niet begreep, haar intense blik en de vreemde balletpassen een soort magie. Later begreep ik dat ze pas negentien was toen ze dit nummer zong. Respect op alle fronten.”

 

 

 

Liefdesverdriet : Elvis Costello – ‘I Want You’

 

“Dit nummer draaide ik al als tiener omdat het al mijn onvervulde verlangens die door mijn lichaam gierden, zo goed wist te verwoorden. Het is een haunting nummer waar het verlangen naar de ander in je gezicht wordt geslagen. Ik had in die tijd een vriendje maar was verliefd op iemand anders, ik kuste mijn vriendje terwijl dit nummer opstond en dacht aan Die Ander.

Ik heb gekozen voor de versie met Fiona Apple omdat het een mooie brug vormt naar een recentere break-up waarna ik haar album The idler wheel… helemaal grijs heb gedraaid. En als ik naar deze opname kijk, kan ik even heel diep terugverlangen naar mijn tijd dat ik zangeres was. Hoewel ik heel gelukkig ben als schrijver, was het afscheid daarvan ook een soort break-up en als ik dit nummer hoor, verlang ik met heel mijn lichaam even terug naar het podium om met dezelfde passie als Fiona te zingen, natuurlijk het liefste in zo’n zelfde jurk.”

 

Inspiratie: Clint Mansell – ‘Lux Aeterna’

“Ik loop hard en doe aan yoga, maar doe dat beide niet op muziek, dus heb ik maar de vrijheid genomen om het als ‘work’ nummer op te vatten, zonder de ‘out’. Schrijven heeft voor mij alles te maken met muziek en omdat ik ritme heel belangrijk vind in mijn werk. Ik vind het belangrijker dat zinnen goed lopen en hoe de bladspiegel eruit ziet, dan mooie woorden gebruiken. Sinds het eerste Anubis boek dat ik schreef, schrijf ik het laatste hoofdstuk van al mijn boeken (het zijn er nu twaalf) op ‘Lux Aeterna’ van Clint Mansell. Ik zet het uren op repeat en ram het hele hoofdstuk er in een trance uit. Ik weet dat het nummer onder elk episch werk wordt gezet, dus het is een volledig cliché, maar cliché’s bestaan niet voor niets en het raakt bij mij precies de juiste snaar om het einde van mijn boeken op spanning te zetten. Misschien komt het wel omdat het ook iets demonisch heeft, iets wat wel past bij mijn werk, dat over geesten en demonen gaat.”

 

 

Mooiste videoclip ooit gemaakt: Little Dragon – ‘Twice’

“Alles klopt aan deze video in combinatie met dit nummer. De simpelheid waarmee dit schaduw-poppenspel een verhaal vertelt met een rauw rouwrandje. Ik kan naar eindeloos vaak naar deze clip kijken en het verveelt me nooit.”

 

 

 

Door: Alexandra Penrhyn Lowe

Redactie: Thomas Spiekerman

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Mike Finley and Inner Ear Media go back a long way, back to the days when Myspace was all the rage and when the millennium bug was only a recent memory. Throughout the 2000s, Mike Finley released two EPs (“Mike Finley” EP / “The Way We Are” EP) that are highly unrecognized by a popular audience. This is a shame as the songs are clearly well written and very relatable. His song Love was picked up and re-recorded by Chris Tomlin for his critically acclaimed album “Hello Love” which went on to do really well but since those days things have been relatively quiet when it comes to mr. Finley’s music.

Last night exciting news reached my ears as Mike announced he is gearing up to record a new album, “New Day”. The proper recording of an album is no easy task and certainly not a cheap one. Therefore Mike asks for your assistance. He started a Kickstarter campaign where you can help him out and help him realize his dream. I’ve known Mike for nearly 15 years and I’ve been a fan of his music for the same length of time. Convinced that I am not the only one who enjoys his pop/rock goodness I would urge you to take my word for it and back this young man in his endeavor to blow your minds with a brand spankin’ new album. If you decide not to take my word for it, please visit Mike’s Kickstarter page and watch the video, listen to some of his old songs on the web and come to the conclusion I was right all along 😉

To give you an idea, Mike is a pop/rock singer-songwriter in the vain of Howie Day, Matt Nathanson, Matthew Mayfield, Graham Colton and the likes. He’s also influenced by mid-90s and early 2000s pop/rock outfits like Gin Blossoms, Goo Goo Dolls, Neve and Lifehouse. He meshes all this together and it results in songs that have a warm feeling of familiarity while his vocals make them undeniably Mike Finley songs.

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Click image to watch the music video for “Home”

T.S. Eliot said that “home is where one starts from” but one could wonder if that statement even remotely covers the concept. For the most part, the statement is true but the curious thing is: it doesn’t end there. Home is a journey and perhaps the Japanese poet Matsuo Basho said it best when he wrote: “Everyday is a journey, and the journey itself is home.” So if home isn’t just a place but a wider concept, you should be able to take it with you and never have to miss it. But we all know that isn’t quite what happens. We’ve all missed our homes or wished we had one or could create one. In his latest glimmer of brilliance, youngster Max Jury sings of the place, or the concept, or the journey, or the feeling, whichever suits to your interpretation.

“Home” is probably his finest crafted tune to date. The feelings of loneliness and nostalgia, the longing for warmth and security. It all fits. Life is a journey, a tricky one. Sometimes it feels like you are alone in the world and you are losing your grip on everything you hold dear. Even if that is just an illusion. But those feelings of loneliness, doubt and insecurity are present in all of us. We all miss the safety and warmth of the home that could sustain us. Max Jury portrays those feelings in a soulful and relatable manner that sounds both precious and timeless.

An English recap of the show can be found on Inner Ear Media’s main website.

Ondanks dat Ruud Houweling het hoofdstuk Cloudmachine voorzichtig heeft dichtgeslagen, begon het optreden vanavond in het prachtige Parktheater in Alphen aan den Rijn toch met wolken. Ruud vertelde dat hij in Schotland was om het hoofd leeg te maken en dat hij de wolken daar vanaf de zee het land op zag komen en als het ware de bergen uitgumden.

Als geschoolde geograaf zag ik dat direct voor me. De natuurkrachten van wind en neerslag zijn onvergeeflijk en met vereende kracht kunnen zij middels de exogene krachten van verwering en erosie op wonderbaarlijke wijze de natuur afbreken. Gelukkig breekt de natuur niet alleen af, maar bouwt zij ook weer op. Net zoals de natuur speelt met de aarde, zo speelt Ruud Houweling met muziek en woorden. Vanaf de eerste tonen van Erasing Mountains had hij me direct te pakken.

De beste songwriters schrijven liedjes waarvan je eigenlijk vergeet dat je er naar aan het luisteren bent. Het zijn liedjes waarin je wordt opgenomen en die je meenemen of omarmen. Ruud Houweling is één van de allerbeste songwriters van de huidige generatie die dit in het meerendeel van zijn songs voor elkaar krijgt. En ook in hernieuwde uitvoeringen blijken deze liedjes hun kracht te behouden. Dat komt omdat de muziek van Ruud Houweling wordt opgebouwd door de kracht van het liedje zelf. De essentie van de muziek en de woorden zijn de belangrijkste bouwsteen voor het muzikale schilderij dat hij je voorhoudt.

Voor het eerst trad Ruud op zonder zijn voormalige band Cloudmachine. Het zorgt voor een andere dynamiek, maar het was niet onwennig of raar. De songs staan allemaal als een huis en de bijdrages van Amir Swaab (accordeon en toetsen) en Egon Kracht (contrabas) zorgden voor een extra rijkdom in de arrangementen en extra warmte in de klank van de liedjes. Ruud omschreef de reden om een nieuwe weg in te slaan als “Cloudmachine voelde een beetje als kleren die niet meer lekker zitten.” Hoewel hij duidelijk nog wat zoekende is naar zijn identiteit los van Cloudmachine, was het direct merkbaar dat er een gevoel van vrijheid en opluchting rondom Ruud hing. Hij krijgt de kans om met zijn liedjes te spelen en op ontdekkingsreis te gaan in zijn eigen werk. Het levert een soort hernieuwd enthousiasme op waarbij de mogelijkheden oneindig lijken. Met indringendheid en een enorme expressie heeft elk liedje iets bijzonders. Het laten samensmelten van een een muzikaal arrangement met een verhaal dat kun je aan deze man wel overlaten. Op het moment dat je er echt naar gaat luisteren dan word je meegevoerd en in de wereld van het liedje gezogen. In sommige gevallen is muziek gewoon muziek, maar op het moment dat een artiest de juiste snaar weet te raken, wordt er ook echt iets gecreëerd. En laat nou daar precies de kracht van Ruud Houweling liggen.

Tijdens het optreden vertelde Ruud veel over plekken waar hij inspiratie opgedaan had en ervaringen die uiteindelijk de vorm van een liedje aangenomen hebben. Ik heb het soms over de mens achter de muziek, maar misschien is het beter om te spreken van de mens in de muziek. Het werd namelijk maar weer eens duidelijk hoe sterk de artiest en zijn muziek met elkaar verweven zijn. Het brengt de emotie, die toch al bijzonder dicht aan de oppervlakte ligt bij Ruud Houweling, nog nadrukkelijker aan het licht. En op dat moment voel je je als luisteraar ook verbonden met de muziek en het verhaal dat in die muziek wordt uitgedragen.

Er zijn nog wel wat hordes te nemen voor Ruud Houweling, maar de verworven vrijheid geeft hem de kans om alles uit zijn liedjes te halen wat er in zit. En bij een songwriter van zijn kaliber kan dat alleen maar leiden tot interessante nieuwe kansen. Mijn nieuwsgierigheid en belangstelling zijn bij deze weer helemaal gewekt en ik hoop de uwe ook. Houdt het in de gaten en mocht u de kans krijgen om deze unieke, tijdloze en verbindende liedjes zelf te ervaren, laat deze kans dan niet schieten!

PictureAll The Roses

Ben Kramer
Independent release

“All The Roses” is a little inconsistent but it delivers on the promise Kramer gave us with “Let Go”. Especially All The Roses and Colder Tonight are really good songs. Ben Kramer writes and sings what he feels. Because his sounds and stories come from within they come across as authentic and believable and shy away from becoming cliché. With this EP he won’t necessarily garner a massive following but he takes a step towards establishing his name and shows he is honing his craft as a singer-songwriter as we can see him step it up a few notches compared to “Let Go”. I’m convinced there’s a bright future for this kid if he gets the chance to develop his talent and work with experienced people that can guide him along the way. And here’s to hoping he will get that chance because it would be a shame to waste a talent like Ben Kramer.


Read the full review here
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For those of you who frequent Inner Ear Media it should come as no surprise that I regard Chad Perrone as an iconic example of what a singer-songwriter (regardless of genre) should encompass. From his solo debut “Used To Dream” through “Wake” and “Release” he’s always been able to make his songs resonate with me on an emotional level in a way that knows few equals. Perrone’s ability to reach across space and time with his words and powerful vocals is a force to reckon with. Now that the year 2014 comes to a close, he brings us “Kaleidoscope”. A bold, new record that may speak even louder than before.

The new album is the most personal record Perrone has delivered to date. As he explained in his latest interview with Inner Ear Media, Perrone doesn’t necessarily wants to pour out his heart but it’s the only way it feels right for him. And this is exactly why I hold Chad Perrone in such high regard. Because everything he lays on us in his songs is real and genuine. He allows us to feel with him. Whether you take on the original interpretation of the songs or one you reflect on your own situation, the emotion within it strikes a chord with you because it was penned and performed from the heart and soul of someone who felt it himself.

On “Kaleidoscope” this is more true than ever. The nature of the music is still the singer-songwriter that writes pop tunes with an edge. But if you are familiar with Chad Perrone’s catalogue you will hear things you haven’t yet heard him do before. The pain and hopelessness that infuses some of the songs is tangible, the usage of beats, drum loops, synths enriches the bare essence of the songs and stories on the album. Sonically, this is a whole new Chad Perrone and because it was done with purpose, you will find that it only enhances his natural talent and doesn’t distract from it as is so often the case with other records.

This years winners of the Inner Ear Media ‘awards’ are:

Albums of the Year

  • Inside Outside
    Novastar
  • Post-Tropical
    James Vincent McMorrow

Song of the Year

  • The Ballad of Jesse James
    North Country Gentlemen

Discovery of the Year

  • The Contenders

To see previous winners, check here

Interview: Chad Perrone

Hi Chad, how have you been?

I’ve been well, thanks for asking.

You just released your new album, Kaleidoscope. Congratulations! Where does the title come from? And how does it represent the album?

My good friends at Pilot Studios here in Boston did the artwork for the album, and they also came up with the title.  I thought I was going to name the album “I’ll Leave You With This,” but during one of our initial viewings of cover art concepts, one of the designs had the title Kaleidoscope on it, which stuck out for me.  When we discussed the title they said they thought the album and its songs took on different meanings depending on where you are at in life when you viewed it (similar to viewing the colored glass in a kaleidoscope).  I loved the concept and so we kept it.

Would you say the album has a central theme? If so, what would that theme be and what made you want to write / sing about it?

As with every record I’ve put together, most of the songs I write have something to do with loss and moving on from that, and Kaleidoscope follows suit.  With the exception of a couple of songs, a lot of the album is centered on the different stages of moving on from a passionate and loving, but ultimately unsuccessful romantic relationship.

Your previous albums (Used To Dream, Wake & Release) were generally well-received and personally I consider them highlights in my collection. How would you say ‘Kaleidoscope’ provides continuity from your previous releases and what did you do differently on this release when it comes to the conception and crafting of the songs?

Sonically, I don’t think Kaleidoscope sounds like anything I’ve ever put out there before.  The continuity would be in the songs themselves.  I think if you listened to the acoustic version of the album, you’ll feel the continuity better.  At the end of the day I’m just a singer/songwriter who writes little pop songs because it’s what I do (and the process is also like “free therapy.”)

Like on your previous albums I noticed there are several songs that portray the highs and lows of personal relationships. Do these reflect personal experiences or are they based on other people’s stories (as well)? And if (some of) the songs are of an autobiographical nature, isn’t it hard for you to bare your soul like that? What makes you want to pour out your heart like that?

You bring up an interesting dilemma that I have endured since I started writing and performing, both for myself and for those that have influenced the music I’ve written.  Everything I write is extremely personal in nature.  While it’s always a bit unnerving to put those things out into the world, I think I would feel more uncomfortable writing songs that were anything but personal.  As I said for the last question, I can’t say that I “want” to pour my heart out and reveal a lot of personal information, but it doesn’t feel genuine doing it any other way.  Songwriting hasn’t always been something that I’ve done for “fun,” as much as something I’ve done for introspection and healing.

The album came together after an extensive crowd funding campaign. Why did you decide to go down that route and would you consider doing more albums this way?

It was something I saw a lot of other musicians and friends do to fund their musical efforts, so I thought I would give it a try.  Overall, it was a great success, granted it’s a lot more work on the backend to fulfill pledges, etc.

Can you tell us a little more about how such a process (with crowd funding) works and how it progresses? And how different is it from a more ‘traditional’ way of going about things?

You start off with a goal/target…essentially a budget for what it will cost to record and piece together the project.  Then you start to price out different incentives/pledges (CD, signed CD, acoustic version of the record etc.)  Until you get to the end, it’s business as usual.  Now at the end of the process it’s a matter of tying up the loose ends, and making sure all of the incentives/pledges are fulfilled.

During the writing and recording, did you ever think certain songs would never get done? And if you deal with setbacks or when you get stuck on a song, how do you deal with that? Can you just move on from a ‘stuck song’ or is it more complicated than that?

Sure, that happens all the time.  We actually set out to record 13 tracks (while only 11 made the record).  In most instances, you shelve a song and come back to it.  Much like anything else, sometimes it just takes some fresh ears or a fresh start to work through a block or setback.  In the case of the two songs that were left off the record, I just didn’t think they fit in the context of the album as a whole.  With that said, one song (“Life In the Past”) made it onto the “Unreleased” album, which was an incentive/pledge item.

On the cover, which is really cool by the way, it says “Chad Perrone presents Kaleidoscope: The music of Chad Perrone, Dennis Carroll & Steve Belleville”. Can you tell us a little more about these collaborators and what their roles were in making this record?

This was another idea that the designers (Pilot Studio) helped me to flesh out.  Dennis and Steve are longtime friends and have been integral pieces to every solo record I have done to-date (with the exception of Black Friday).  When I set out to do this album, I had a very specific idea of how I wanted things to sound, and what I wanted the process to be, and how that process would be different than other ways we had gone about doing a record before.  For the first time since I started making music (even since my time with Averi), I felt comfortable collaborating on every aspect of the production and arrangement with other people.  There were instances where Dennis and Steve would do a lot of the instrumentation of a song without me, and even when there were times when I didn’t love 100% of an idea , we would go with it if it was something they both thought worked best.

Also, in the past, we’ve had many different musicians and friends come in and contribute to an album, which while it’s been a wonderfully fulfilling and enriching process, I really wanted to do things differently with Kaleidoscope. For the first time on one of my studio albums, Dennis, Steve and I were the only people to play and sing on the album.

On Kaleidoscope there’s an increased usage of discernible beats and effects compared to your previous work. ‘Feel Everything’, ‘First Move’, ‘If Only for a Weekend’, and ‘Recovery is a Long Road’ for example are somewhat different than previous songs. What was the reason for implementing these techniques?

I had a really bad writer’s block for a long time.  One of the large reasons was that everything sounded the same to me when I would sit down to write on an acoustic guitar.  I was having a hard time coming up with new melodies and phrasings.  So, I started looping drum beats in GarageBand, followed by recording a chord progression on the keyboard/synth.  I would then just sit there and try to come up with as many different melodies as I could to a simple progression.  The result was half of the songs on the album.

The other large reason for the “beats” on the album was that I felt it actually let us be more creative.  We had a lot more control over the sounds and textures on the album, allowing us to experiment with things in ways we hadn’t been able to on other albums.

What lessons have you learned in creating Kaleidoscope and how would you put those lessons to use in the future?

Steve and Dennis understand me musically better than I could explain to you in words.  That is what I learned through this process.  I can’t say for certain that I wouldn’t entertain doing a record differently in the future, but it would be difficult to imagine recording something without them.

Is there a song on the album you are particularly proud of? If so, which one and why?

I couldn’t begin to pick just one.  I have something I’m proud of for each song, and for each little thing each one of us contributed.

Which of these songs is the most exciting to play live and why?

Good question.  I’ll let you know when we attempt to play these live as a band (which could be a while).

Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, Chad. Last but not least, can you tell people why they might enjoy your new record and where they can go to listen to it and purchase it if they like what they hear?

One of my weaknesses as a singer/songwriter is my inability to promote my own music, so I’ll leave the former part of your question to those that have listened to my music and like what they have heard.  I have always said that word of mouth works better than any other promotion out there.

As for the latter half, www.chadperronemusic.com and chadperrone.bandcamp.com.

MarkCrawfordWilliams_SingASongSing A Song

Mark Crawford Williams

2014


A couple of years ago Mark Crawford Williams released “Tryin’ Man” which he describes as a somewhat barebones acoustic americana LP. This record, however, got him the attention of the right people as he now releases his Nashville-based sophomore album called “Sing A Song”. Much like his debut, the album is filled with the sounds of historic American music with influences from the American folk, country and blues scenes.

You will immediately hear the bluesy twang on the title track. Williams has a solid vocal range and musically the song is a tight package that displays skill and insight. Much the same can be said for the modernday honkytonky Catch That Train, which is one of the most interesting tracks on the album. It’s old school country made current. It’s down to earth, like country should be in my eyes and it catches your ear. The rhythm and the tempo are perfect for Williams’ vocals and the songs pops.

The pace goes down on Lying Next To Me which is served by piano and shows a lot of restraint until it evolves in a jangly little country-pop tune with some jazzy undertones. It becomes cheeky and playful and while I really like this song I felt Williams’ vocal style favors the previous songs a little more than this one. Tryin’ Man has a classic vibe to it. Especially in the chorus, which has that big sound. On Skeeta Williams turns into a more playful sound again but this time it comes out better in my eyes. The vocals are a little fuller and the rhythm caters to his vocals more which makes this a really cool song. The saloon-y piano arrangement is an instant classic.

The Main Thing never really got going for me. It has a strong vocal performance and there’s a really good interaction between vocals and instrumentals but to me it lacks a certain tension or excitement that lifts it up a little further. The tension, however, is felt on I Don’t Run Anymore which really showcases the vocalist Mark Crawford Williams. You can hear the emotion seep through and it makes me think this song is one of the more personal on the album. The way it builds up in intensity and stays so sincere is really very impressive.

We’re in the home stretch of the album with the final two songs coming up. And Mark Crawford Williams finishes strong. One More Song brings together the influences from classic country and current country-pop in this powerballad. It’s very sincere and warm. Williams reminds me of John Denver a little bit on The Party Ain’t Over. The reflective countryfolk with a hopeful tone is both uplifiting and in its own way quite catchy.

“Sing A Song” suprised me. I grew up listening to a lot of country & western, folk and americana music and much in the vein of the artists I used to listen to as a kid, Mark Crawford Williams is able to present music in a way that is accessible to all audiences with down to earth themes, honest deliveries and clever arrangements. Nothing about these songs is fabricated or too ornate. I don’t know if “Sing A Song” will reach a wide audience but I believe it should. Williams understands the tradition of country music and has the soul of a folk troubadour which makes that he can really get his songs and stories across. I’m hoping you will give this record a try. It may not be the most revolutionary album of the year but it is definitely one of the most pleasant ones.

JasperSlaghuis_BendBend

Jasper Slaghuis

BandBus Records – 2014

Jasper Slaghuis previously played with the band Yukka. Afterwards he chose to step down from the limelight of music life. Recently, working with other musicians and joining Arthur Adam’s Twents Songwriters Guild, he took advantage of the xenogamy of musical influences and expressions in the region. His passion for making music returned and after recording an EP with the Guild he took on the quest of recording a full-length album by himself.

On November 12, 2014, Slaghuis proudly presented his record at the Concordia Theatre in Enschede. And rightly so, because “Bend” is a beautifully crafted singer/songwriter album, containing songs of integrity and passion.

The album opens with the gorgeous title song Bend. Slowly the song increases in intensity and along the way the vocals fill up the holes and it unfolds into a sensitive opener to the album.

Let It Go starts off bold with tons of character and down the stretch it evolves into a relaxed guitar-driven pop tune in the vein of early John Mayer songs. Not a traditional catchy pop tune but it has a certain signature that sticks with you. And in certain vocal expressions Slaghuis reminds me of Adam Duritz in the way that he is able to end words and lines with an emotional touch that keeps resonating.

To my taste the echoing on Better, a piano ballad, is a little over the top. This doesn’t take anything away from the song itself though as it is beautifully composed with emotion seeping through its pores. It’s a classic style pop song of the kind you don’t hear much anymore. It is filled with metaphors symbolizing pain and struggles that are part of love and life itself.

Jasper Slaghuis has proven to be able to strike a sensitive chord. He continues to do this on In Your Sky which may be one of the most impressive songs on the album. Its lyrics are strong and honest and the passionate performance brings out the best. While some may end up criticizing the vocal performance in this song I do believe it is exactly those slight imperfections that create authenticity and achieve the right amount of fragility to make this song shine.

The album continues with a potential radio single, Let Go. It has a nice flow to it and invites the listener to really get into it and even sing along. While it is a strong song that you can’t easily get out of your head, to me personally, it misses that extra dimension I am able to find on some of the other songs.

The next song features a well known metaphor of losing things in the fire. While this metaphor is used in many songs, Slaghuis manages to keep Things We Lost on the right side of the tension balance to keep the song interesting and the slightly folksy undertone aids the narrative which raises this song from good to special.

The next few songs are well-written but might not be the standout songs on the album. Not to me at least. Inside and Here & Now have solid lyrics and clever arrangements but miss those hard to describe elements that leave you with a sense of wonder. A Breeze Like You, however, is another well-composed piano ballad with a calm lead in. After the lead in, the vocals come in and produce a fine teamwork with the warm sound of the keys. As the intensity of the song increases, so does the complexity and the song effortlessly evolves into an anthem, picking up strength. Part of the piano arrangement have a slight Queenesque tone to them which is a nice little feature that adds to the song.

4-11-2008 (Chicago Lady) suggests a song of a personal nature which is reflected in the tone of the song. It’s a fine song by itself but I feel the song doesn’t quite reach its maximum potential. If only it would come out of its shell a little more it could make quite the difference. To some of you the introvert nature of the track may actually be what draws you to it, so this obviously is a personal observation. You Will Always Play That Part tends to come out of its shell a little more. In a way that reminds me of Cary Brothers, Slaghuis is able to emphasize the vocals during “…how am I suppose to make a stop / when I cannot let you go and / why do you always play that part / is it just ‘cause I love you so…” which strengthens the song immensely.

And that’s where we reach the end of the album. Three is a fitting song to finish off “Bend”. It is a quiet piano tune not unlike other songs on the album. This creates a certain continuity and cohesion to the musical aspects of the record.

“Bend” is an impressive debut that should fill Jasper Slaghuis with pride. Generally the record is clean and polished off which is a strength in itself. Personally, though, I like it when sometimes songs touch boundaries, or even cross them. Those songs that are a little bolder and more expressive are the standout songs in my opinion (Bend, Let It Go, Your Sky, Things We Lost, You Will Always Play This Part). “Bend” is a promise that we can expect even greater things in the future from this man. But for now we have the pleasure to get to know Jasper Slaghuis through his debut album: “Bend”.