donderdag 17 september 2015

Pass It On. Douwe Bob

After his extremely pleasant debut album in 2013 I sort of missed his second album. Not that I did not hear a new track come by every once in a while, I just did not run into the album. Then I heard a new single on the radio and thought, that is true, Pass It on is out for months and I haven't even heard it. Let's change that.

Douwe Bob walks many a path on his second album, leaving the pure pop behind for somewhat more stringent singer-songwriter material and the fine harmonies of the Eagles and Crosby, Stills & Nash. Especially the last sort of harmonies are beautiful but not exactly pop. Douwe Bob goes off the deep end, but does he come back up?

That answer is yes, as some songs are even gloriously good. The answer is maybe because in a few songs in my opinion he is struggling to keep his head above water. Admirable Pass It On is none the same as I hear an artist that refuses to take the easy way out.

'Born in a Storm' (click here for our review: held a lot of great pop songs. Which surprised me at the time ibecause Douwe Bob was presented as a singer-songwriter. With Pass It On he moves more into the direction that I would have expected him to be at at the time. Singer-songwriters like James Taylor or Christopher Cross, the Crosby - Nash duo albums are clearly influences on Douwe Bob's new album. And that is exactly where I run into difficulties. I have never found my way into these singers' oeuvre. It sounds incredibly dull, let me try harder with words, complex and sedated to me, with hardly anything going on and songs that sometimes seem to be devoid of flowing melodies, exceptions allowed. Some of the songs on Pass It On have that effect on me. The urge to go and do something else than listening to this album.

Having had a lot of sympathy for 'Born in a Storm' I decided not to give up easily, but my impression did not change during further listening. It's like walking around a building and not finding a door to get in or if there is one, the chorus of  the title song e.g. and 'Sweet Sunshine', then it only leads to one room with just walls and nothing else. Listening to the verses of 'Pass It On' again I realise that it is exactly that feeling I have when listening to Tim Knol, but didn't find the right words for to voice. 'Pass It On' has a perfect mix of two worlds. The seriousness of the verse and the glorious chorus and solos. The more poppy 'Can't Slow Down' continues my positive feeling. It holds a certain gloom packaged in a great pop melody.

'Take It All', the third song, is a huge ballad with a lot of strings and some horns. The whole shebang, but too clean, too neat and it doesn't really come to life. And, it has never been one of my ambitions to listen to an Andy Williams album. 'Sugar' is one of the great songs on Pass It On. Douwe Bob manages to get all the chords, melodies and notes in the right places. The little piano notes tinkle and sparkle. Again a mood between gladness and sadness is captured in one song.

'Doctor' sounds like The Black Crowes light. 'Sweet Sunshine' is the pop highlight of this album. A great and soulful chorus. It was this song that reminded me that I had forgotten all about Pass It On.

It is after this pop gem that the mood on Pass It On changes. 'Hollywood' is the bridge song. The piano's role rises and I have a hard time to listen to 'Morning Sunset'. 'Gini' is again more up beat, but the exception this deep into Pass It On. I can't help but liking the song. After this all sparkles are used up. There is some great harmonising in 'We'll Be Gone', a duet with Anouk, the single 'Hold Me', but the songs just don't come alive or they just do not suit me.

Summing things up, Pass It On leaves me somewhere in between. It think I can hear where Douwe Bob wants to go, but he needs to decide what he wants to be. Pass It On is inconsistent in the choices made and it if the choice falls on the "serious singer-songwriter" genre, the songs need something more to stand out. Douwe Bob is able to reach for these little extras as a pop-rock singer. In other words the potential is there. If he wants to be both, and it is his full right to choose just that, the same applies.


You can listen to 'Pass It On' here:

or buy at

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