Few artists have managed to cover as many genres in a career as mercurial Dutch songstress Anneke van Giersbergen.
Anneke van Giersbergen – The Darkest Skies Are The Brightest (InsideOutMusic)
Release Date: 26 February 2021
Words: Ian Sutherland
From her beginnings as lead singer with The Gathering and their melancholic Metal sound, she has seemingly effortlessly moved from solo acoustic shows to the sweeping, epic grandeur of The Gentle Storm with Arjen Lucassen, from solo albums both upbeat and with darker edges, to adding colour and light to some of Devin Townsend’s work.
With the creation of progressive Metal outfit Vuur in 2017 and the successful album and extensive touring which followed, it seemed like we could see what direction this hugely talented musician would be heading in for a while. However financial pressures and personal issues put her in a more reflective frame of mind.
As an artist who invariably follows their inner muse, Vuur was put on hold and Anneke headed to a small house near her home town of Eindhoven with an acoustic guitar and some basic recording equipment to write and record her feelings about the world and her place in it at the time.
The result is a mature and sophisticated album, seemingly simple in its construction with gentle acoustic vibes and introspective lyrics, yet it is also full of uplifting moments and songs with swampy, rhythmic drum sounds which you cannot help but groove along to.
Unusually for most albums I enjoy, the initial single releases have given a really clear signal of what to expect from this record. ‘My Promise’ and especially ‘Hurricane’ with the darker video images suiting the material better, are full of the rhythmic essences, the delicate arrangements and the obligatory beautiful lead vocals augmented at times with gorgeous layering effects which define the serene vibe of this album.
The opener ‘Agape’ with added string quartet which has the title line, ‘The Darkest Skies Are The Brightest’, sets the tone of introspection about life’s challenges but how the brightest times are born from life’s hardships.
‘I Saw A Car’ is jaunty and quirky, almost an Alannis Morisette kind of feel to it. ‘Keep It Simple’ with its “Keep it simple, it’s alright, keep it pure” refrain is deceptively easy going in attitude to life, but full of deft little touches which give it depth and more meaning.
‘Losing You’ is as emotional as the title makes it sound, but is not as sad as you might think and the following upbeat grooves of ‘Survive’ are the perfect follow up.
There is a school of thought among some of her fans that this extraordinary lady can sing anything and make you listen to it. The truth is though, that she is not just able to switch genres and sounds at will, she is damn good at writing the songs and getting the right people and right arrangements to make it work, to turn the ideas into something of real quality.
Flitting from genre to genre is not giving yourself a very comfortable existence and is probably not that comfortable for the people around you, but Anneke van Giersbergen is the real deal, a truly gifted artist and with ‘The Darkest Skies Are Brightest’ she has triumphed once again.
This is an album I had to have, but did not realise it until she released it.
It is a comforting bright light in a black pandemic background and a heartwarming and fascinating listen.
The Darkest Skies Are The Brightest
03. My Promise
04. I Saw A Car
05. The Soul Knows
06. The End
07. Keep It Simple
08. Lo And Behold
09. Losing You
11. Love You Like I Love You