Dennis Kolen – Northeim Goldmine – Stockfish Records multichannel SACD SFR-357-4059-2, 36:21 ***½:
(Dennis Kolen – vocals, guitars, blues harp, bass; Ferry Lagendijk – piano, Fender Rhodes, Hammond B3, Mellotron; Wietse Zeedijk – electric bass, harmony vocals; Jimmy van den Nieuwenhuizen – drums, percussion; Beata Kossowska – blues harmonica; Beo Brockhausen – saxophone, flute, percussion; Lea Morris – harmony vocals; Wojtek Bolimowski – violin, string arrangements; Zsuzsanna Bolimowski – violin; Oksana Labach – viola; Lucile Chaubard – cello; Peter Funk – dobro; Sven von Samson – hang; Hans-Jorg Maucksch – fretless bass.)
The influence of the Southern California folk rock scene, forty years removed, has surfaced in Holland. Dennis Kolen, a talented singer and songwriter, was raised on his father’s vinyl collection of Jackson Browne, Crosby Stills Nash & Young, Joni Mitchell, and the Eagles. In the spirit of the troubadour, themes of melancholy, romance, weariness and optimism serve as inspiration for the creative process for a new generation.
On Northeim Goldmine, Kolen has assembled eleven original compositions. Highly personal, the songs are well crafted, with an emphasis on the singer’s affability. “The Shape of Things”, an introspective narrative, is representative of the arrangements, showcasing the mellifluous vocals and listenable guitar play. The temporal nature of relationships continues with “The Ties That Bind”, enhanced by the enticing harmonizing of Lea Morris and a lush string section.
As with other traditional singers, there is a strong country influence. With singing reminiscent of Poco or Buffalo Springfield, songs like “Stand Inside Love” and “She Knows Me So Well” exhibit a subtle, rolling cadence. The addition of dobro by Pete Funk provides a nuanced texture to these romantic queries, as well as the tenuous road poem, “Hey California” Kolen’s voice and guitar are eminently listenable, and remain the central focus of the music.
A change of pace, “The Boy in the Photograph”, approximates a more jazzy feel with a piano solo by Ferry Langendijk, tempo shifts and a decidedly more affecting lead vocal. The final track, “Your Goodnight Blues”, has an enticing synthesis of voice and piano, countered by a layered, orchestral framing by violin, viola and cello.
The lyrical subject matter is, at times, simplistic. However, the tonality of this surround SACD is consistent. The sound production is meticulous, as the instrumentation, and especially the harmony vocals, have both clarity and precision. [Nice to have Stockfisch offering some multichannel SACDs in addition to their stereo-only SACDs, while Exton seems to be going the other direction with their SACDs…Ed.]
TrackList: The Shape of Things; Seaside Rendezvous; The Ties That Bind; For Cloud Dog and Jane; Stand Inside Love; Stay with Me; Hey California; She Knows Me So Well; The Boy in the Photograph; Halfway to Heaven; Your Goodnight Blues.
— Robbie Gerson