The Veldman Brothers – Refuel
11 songs – 45 minutes
Refuel is the sixth album from leading Dutch blues-rock band, The Veldman Brothers, with 10 original songs written by singer/guitarist Gerrit Veldman and one track by Gerrit’s brother, Bennie, who also plays piano, organ and harmonica as well as contributing one lead vocal.
The album opens with the mid-paced instrumental shuffle of “Brothers Groove”, which highlights Bennie’s glorious B-3 solo and Gerrit’s bitingly melodic guitar playing, as well as reflecting the influence of Stevie Ray Vaughan, circa Soul To Soul. It is obvious that these boys can play the blues and, even though most of the rest of the album lies in the world of rock, the blues feeds into much of what they do.
The straight-ahead rock of “The Only One” benefits from more nice organ from Bennie and a tasty wah-wah guitar solo from Gerrit before Bennie mixes piano and organ on the Faces-esque “Losin’ It”, on which his brother convincingly channels Rod the Mod in his vocal performance.
The upbeat shuffle of “I Found” has echoes of Gary Moore’s 1990s blues albums while “Stay Close” recalls the Black Crowes as well as Rod Stewart, in both Gerrit’s slide guitar playing and his vocals.
“Journey” is a slow, acoustic 12 bar blues with excellent lumping drums by Han Neijenhuis and a fine harp solo from Bennie. One of the joys of the album is how well the brothers work together and complement each other. Gerrit is a top-class guitarist, singer and songwriter, but it’s Bennie’s subtle contributions that provide the essential support to enable Gerrit to shine. And when Bennie does take a solo, he kills it.
The shuffle of “What Is Wrong” is distinguished by its distinctive guitar introduction, which is then repeated in tandem with the keys. A similar trick enhances the heavy funk-rock of “No Love Song”, with Gerrit contributing some beautiful hanging, weeping notes between Bennie’s vocal lines.
The discordant heavy rock riff of “Suspicious” is memorable with Bennie’s superb organ playing once again elevating the song above what could be a simple rock track.
The soul-rock ballad “Carry On” reaches back to the late 1960s before the album closes out with the ZZ Top-esque boogie of “One Step Closer” with Bennie back on harp. The rhythm section of Neijenhuis and bassist Fred van Der Wende, who are splendid throughout the album, absolutely nail the dynamics necessary to keep a one chord song interesting.
Refuel is superbly produced by Roy Klein-Entink and The Veldman Brothers, who have captured a warm, very live sound. As an aside, it is perhaps curious that so much effort has clearly been put into what is a very impressive CD, but the band’s website (or at least, the English language part of it) has barely been updated over the last two years and so focuses primarily on Livin’ By The Day, the band’s previous CD release.
The Veldman Brothers bill themselves as a blues band and have won a number of blues awards in the Netherlands. The music on Refuel, however, while very enjoyable, is a long way from being the blues. Rather, it is traditional blues-rock with a heavy 1970s influence.
Nevertheless, there is much to enjoy on Refuel. The songs are well-constructed and played with great dexterity and no little virtuosity. If your tastes include the likes of the Faces, Gary Moore and the Black Crowes, you will definitely want to check out the Veldman Brothers.