Dutch duo The Common Linnets, consisting of Ilse DeLange and Waylon, decided it was time to let Europe hear what country music is all about. After being asked for Eurovision, where they finished in 2nd place, it was time for their album! The self-titled album has been doing well in charts, but what do we think?
01: Calm after the Storm
The album starts with the song we all know from Eurovision. This album version however is half a minute longer than the Eurovision (and radio) version, mainly because of a different intro. The new intro works, as you get the sense of the rhythm before the two singers start singing. The vocal harmonies in this song work, but the most important element when listening to this is JB Meijers’ guitar solo, after about 2 minutes.
02: Hungry Hands
This really is the classic Ilse DeLange tune. If you’re familiar with Ilse’s work, you’ll recognise this. It goes back to her older albums, where she did songs such as So Incredible. It’s a good way to get familiar with country music, with this being a ‘European’ way of doing country music.
03: Arms of Salvation
Talking about uptempo! Here’s another one, but this is what you call clear Nashville music. This song would’ve been great on an album by Merle Haggard.
04: Still Loving after You
This is the song that got the most attention before they announce Calm after the Storm for Eurovision. It’s another simple ballad, two guitars and perfect vocal harmonies. This however is more country style than their Eurovision song and for me, one of the best of the album.
05: Sun Song
I still like this, but I think we’ve found my least favourite song of the album. It’s sort of girly country in a midtempo way (think Kacey Musgraves/Taylor Swift here). Good stuff for an album.
06: Lovers and Liars
And here is my favourite song of the album. This is adult country music, filled with joy and passion for the genre. Country music isn’t just ‘YEEHAW cowboy’ or some deep dramatic songs, this is why country music deserves the attention it’s getting with this album. A great uptempo song that would be perfect on radios all over the world.
07: Broken But Home
This is one of the songs that gets most praise from fans across the world and I can see why. It’s a very classic country attempt where Waylon’s country timbre just works. The fact Ilse joins in in the chorus and just gives it all is really interesting.
08: Before Complete Surrender
Ilse’s vulnerable side shows in this song. The quiver in her voice, accompanied by this touching message are a good combination. It’s the first truly solo song of the album and it works.
09: Where Do I Go With Me?
If you love the Country Hall of Fame, with the greats such as Merle Haggard, Kenny Rogers and most of all, Jonny Cash, you’ll go mad for this song. Normally this would not be a compliment, but now it is: this song would’ve fit perfectly in the past. This brings back the times of great, classic country music. It’s Waylon’s solo attempt on this album and he’s done better than I’d ever expected. A true highlight.
10: Time Has No Mercy
If you’ve seen the film O Brother, Where Art Thou? with George Clooney, the start of this song will remind you of The Soggy Bottom Boys. Or if you’re a true country fan, you might know the original by Dick Burnett. This is ‘YEEHAW’ done well, if you get what I mean.
11: Give Me A Reason To Write You One
This is the song where rock-ish music and country meet. Some strong, not so Nashville sounding, guitars kicking in her and Ilse’s vocals show attitude here: if you want a love song, then give me a reason to write you one. It’s straightforward, it’s in your face and a nice change on the album.
12: When Love Was King
Another really classic song here, like Where Do I Go With Me? – this however reminds me more of Kenny Rogers than any of the others, which is still a compliment.
13: Love Goes On
They really decided to save the heartbreak until the end… Ilse’s first ever completely self-written song, some piercing vocals and those lyrics are magnificent. Ilse wrote this song for her deceased father and the emotions show. This impresses.
The world of country music should see what these two Dutch singers have done. Ilse’s vocals reminded me of legends such as Tammy Wynette, Patsy Cline, Emmylou Harris and Alison Krauss at times, whereas Waylon really honours names like Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, Kenny Rogers and even Conway Twitty. This album might well be the sign that country music is a worldwide genre, as these two European singers would definitely fit right in with the American country music scene.
The album deserves the success and you can hear the love these two have for the genre. Their success in other genres, such as pop, soul and rock, has given them the opportunity to show where they came from and show what they want to go back to.
If you want to get familiar with country music, this is a good way to start your discovery. If you already know country music, this is a great addition to your collection.
In short, I’d give this album a score of 9/10.
You can buy the album, The Common Linnets, at your local iTunes Store, Amazon and other music platforms.