CD: 14 Songs, 60:08 Minutes
Styles: Blues Covers, Contemporary Electric Blues Rock, Ensemble Blues
Paradoxes affect our lives in countless ways, though we may not realize it. For example, the more choices we’re offered in a certain situation, the less able we’ll be to make what we think is the right decision. Just go to any grocery store and see what I mean – or search for blues albums. Speaking of which, Netherlands bluesman Robbert (that’s not a typo) Fossen’s new release, Get Off On It!, is a paradox in and of itself. On the one hand, it was nominated Best Dutch Blues CD of 2017, praised by well-known critics in Holland and Belgium. On the other hand, out of its full hour of music (fourteen songs), more than half of it consists of covers. One might think that the finest blues release from an entire country, not just a city, would possess more original material. Again, on the other hand, perhaps the reason it won was because it had so many familiar tunes, like Eric Bibb’s “Don’t Let Nobody Drag Your Spirit Down” and the title track by T.J. White.
The greatest paradox of all when it comes to this album is Fossen’s singing. He’s trying to sound like a deep-baritone American R&B crooner from the ‘50s and ‘60s, but can’t quite manage to keep his native accent in the background. Check out “Believe to my Soul,” a Ray Charles number, for proof of this. The overall effect is pleasant, but a bit jarring nonetheless. Backed by crisp, clear instrumentation and background vocals sweeter than roasted marshmallows, the band’s music will stick to the insides of listeners’ ears long after the CD is over.
On the English version of their website, a brief blurb states that the band has existed since 2006 and has had various line-ups. Their style and repertoire were mostly based on Chicago blues, but they’re now performing in a broader variety of styles. Whereas the Fossen & Struijk Band is a pure Chicago Blues band, there are also soul, gospel and R&B influences in the Robbert Fossen Band. Basically the band is a sextet, but it can be expanded to twelve people for live shows.
Along with Fossen on lead vocals, guitar and harmonica are Lothar Wijnvoord on guitar; Pascal Lanslots on Hammond B3 organ; Ivan Schilder on piano, Rhodes and Wurlitzer; Jan Markus on bass, and Eduard Nijenhuis on drums. Cosmea Panka, Ramona Nelom and Tamara Spithorst provide background vocals. The horn section consists of Robbert Tuinhof on tenor sax, Annemieke Loog-Henrichs on trombone, and Pier Borkent on trumpet.
The original song below describes a Mean Girl, but as you’ll discover, Mother Nature can also be one.
Track 03: “Katrina” – More than ten years after the worst hurricane in U.S. history, her name still makes people shudder. With a roaring guitar-and-piano intro and lyrics that’ll make you think, its end packs a wallop: “Went for Biloxi and everything in between. Well, please, please tell me, sweetie, why you’re being so mean. Now I remember, remember your name, but the memory will never be the same.” Ivan Schilder’s solo is fantastic, pouring down notes like rain.
Blues fans all over the world will find themselves hitting Replay again and again on their stereos, wondering just what it is that makes Get Off On It! tick. Even yours truly can only say that the answer is another paradox: It’s as American as apple pie, but it’s also Dutch apple pie, and the proof is in the slightly unusual taste.