Kim Janssen – Cousins

Dutch singer-songwriter, Kim Janssen’s sound can be incredibly soothing. His first two albums had a “sitting-around-the-campfire” folky quality about them – sat somewhere between Jack Johnson and José Gonzalez. His new album, Cousins, retains some of this rustic and homely quality yet it feels like Janssen has more tools at his disposal to explore his creativity. Stark and simple folk this is not, but is it a step forward or has his expanded horizon compromised the intimacy which made his debut so attractive?

Single ‘Bottle Rockets’ seemed to cast such suggestions aside. A gorgeous piano melody and soft-spoken lyric brimming with nostalgia provided a soul-nourishing familiarity. However, you’ll soon discover that the true nature of Cousins is one of alt-pop with hints of his folk origins.

It’s so easy to get lost in the toe-tapping quality of ‘Gouldians’ as well as the lugubrious tones of ‘Actor’ – Janssen’s vocal complimenting both in equal measure.

At times the album’s quite haunting and somehow serene in the same instance. ‘Host’ trudges through a slow progression of stuttering drums, deep bass, and swelling atmosphere which reaches a stirring climax. ‘Dynasty’ is brimming with uplifting energy, the kind of which often accompanies inspirational film trailers or real-life success stories. It reaches a plateau not previously ventured to by Janssen.

It’s a well-balanced album which drifts from the euphoric to the solemn. I like both of these sides he explores. It’s so easy to get lost in the toe-tapping quality of ‘Gouldians’ as well as the lugubrious tones of ‘Actor’ – Janssen’s vocal complimenting both in equal measure.

As Cousins draws to a close on ‘Rama VI’ I’m left satisfied but by no means blown away. The album is pleasant with a lot of intelligent songwriting and it might be Janssen’s finest album to date, but it’s not without its mundane moments. I also feel that ‘Cousin’ is better suited to close the album than ‘Rama VI’. Not only is it the title track, but it offers a more natural conclusion.


Noteworthy Details

Wider use of instrumentation than we’ve seen before
A well-balanced album
‘Cousin’ should have been the finale

Rating

7/10



Track List
1. Dynasty
2. Take Shelter
3. Host
4. Night-Heron
5. Gouldians
6. Actor
7. Bottle Rockets
8. Cousin
9. Rama VI