Abaddon magazine

Music magazine

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Review: Anneke van Giersbergen – The Darkest Skies Are the Brightest

Label: InsideOut Music

Date: February 26, 2021

It’s a matter of proper upbringing to not ask a lady about her age. In case of female musicians something similar could be applied to asking about how many albums have you participated in. Especially with an artist as colourful and fruitful as Mrs. van Giersbergen. Even if you should venture into a countdown, you would certainly find yourself in a terrible predicament. I wonder if she herself can name them all. Even if just speaking about the genres she went through it would be one hell of a task.

On the subject of genres, who would’ve imagined that a voice that gilded such records as “Mandylion” or “Nighttime Birds” would fit a vast variety of different musical backgrounds? But that’s just the case with grand God-given vocal chords and the skill to use them properly. Of course, the talent to spot opportunities for growth and fitting “experiment”.

Thus, we have come to year 2021 and the new solo album by the Dutch diva (yes, rightfully so). And an unplugged one, though not in an already known sense of the word. “The Darkest Skies Are the Brightest” is not an attempt to rehash (or re-cash) the past successes. The album is a collection of eleven new tracks. Come to think of it, I can almost see Anneke sitting at home in a pandemic lockdown, looking to exploit the time as best as she can. Am I right in assuming this scenario?

Anyway, what came out of it is likely the mellowest record Mrs. van Giersbergen ever recorded. A certain melancholic surrounding is probably the one thing connecting this record with her previous outputs. At least sound wise. On the other hand, one can associate the acoustic guitar, being the main instrument that follows the majestic voice, with her past projects. On a similar note, the occasional subtle symphonic addition can also bear ties with the years behind.

Naturally, this is not all that is present on “The Darkest Skies Are the Brightest”. When it comes to instruments involved there is a small multitude of them. A creative mind, not afraid to use and abuse whatever means are available, responsible for the crafting of the record has definitely gone all in to paint the picture brightly prior to adding the finishing touch. The voice, as the point of reference.

The voice is, expectedly, the key instrument on the record. Now, you should already be familiar with Anneke’s unmistakeable colour and the bag of tricks it is able to pull out. Other than this colour fitting, as it turns out, almost anywhere, Anneke’s ability to make good use of it and adapt to the feel of individual song is incredible. Long years of experience definitely help, but the emotion transcended with the vocals, whatever the actual lyrical message, is downright incredible. The woman gets hopeful, melancholic, playful, childish or fairly serious with such ease that is hard to comprehend.

Basically, what came out in the end is a pearl. For a couple of aching metal ears, the album is a delight. For a sunny, spring day, “The Darkest Skies Are the Brightest” is a warm breeze. For any real music lover, this is a gift of a record.

Cannot wait to hear where will the road take this extremely gifted lady next.