Album of the Week 03-2012: Anneke van Giersbergen – Everything Is Changing

Speechless was I when I heard Anneke van Giersbergen and her new backing band play her new album ‘Everything Is Changing’ at Amsterdam’s Melkweg yesterday. Not only is Anneke as amazing as she ever was, the songs prove that ‘Everything Is Changing’ is the best Arena Rock album since the mid-nineties. Once again, the best singer in Holland (and possibly in the whole world, maybe with the exception of Aretha Franklin) reinvented herself. The album is a new highlight in her already stainless discography.

For ‘Everything Is Changing’, Anneke worked with Portuguese producer Daniel Cardoso, who is apparently a big fan of what Anneke did during The Gathering’s ‘How To Measure A Planet?’/’if_then_else’ era. Coincidentally, so am I. That doesn’t, however, mean that the duo copied that particular sound, but it seems like they’ve taken that basis and injected it with some healthy shots of Arena Rock, Electro-Goth and upbeat Pop music. The result is a bombastic, catchy, danceable and melodic cocktail that is in turns romantic, dark and life-affirming.

Some songs are bound to bring back the Gathering-fans that gave up on Anneke with her Pop and singer/songwriter detour on this album’s predecessor ‘In Your Room’, which was a marvellous album in its own right. Funnily enough, those songs are all located on the second half of the album, which is a sign that the production duo isn’t keen on taking the safe and easy road. And why would they? Their collaboration has proven fruitful, as the enormous amount of variation on the album is overwhelming.

Opening track ‘Feel Alive’ serves as a perfect transition between the “smaller” sounding singer/songwriter approach of ‘In Your Room’ and this album’s big production. Also, the positive mood set with the song just makes you want to hear the rest of the album. Anneke gets plenty of room to shine in the beautiful ballads ‘Circles’ and ‘Everything Is Changing’, there’s a larger than life sense of Arena Rock in ‘You Want To Be Free’ and ‘Hope, Pray, Dance, Play’, the pounding riffs of ‘Stay’ and ‘Too Late’ and the uptempo Rock sound of ‘Too Late’ are somewhat reminders of Anneke’s harder rocking early days, ‘I Wake Up’ takes the late eighties Goth-Pop to the 21st century and the beautiful closing track ‘1000 Miles Away From You’ brings all of the sounds on the album together.

Daniel Cardoso’s main responsibility on this album seem to be the huge sounding production and mixing up the real drums of Anneke’s husband Rob Snijders with electronic beats, a combination I am usually no fan of, but which works remarkably well here. Also, this album is so multi-layered that the bombast doesn’t wear off like with many of the pompous over-produced efforts that litter radio nowadays. Also, Cardoso’s keyboard parts are remarkably tasteful and well-placed.

And of course, Anneke’s vocals are as divine as ever. It’s hard to find someone with such perfect pitch control and – if you don’t want to get technical – such a moving tone as her. Plus, it’s only commendable if someone refuses to stand still and keeps developing. It’s given us another unbelievable album with her vocals on it. And guess what? They can pull this huge thing off live as well! Go and have a look the forthcoming months if you don’t believe me.

Recommended tracks: ‘You Want To Be Free’, ‘Stay’, ‘Hope, Pray, Dance, Play’, ‘Slow Me Down’, ‘Take Me Home’

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