vrijdag 14 februari 2014

Roll the dice. Rogier Pelgrim

Rogier Pelgrim featured twice before on this blog. First his gig as support of Handsome Poets was reviewed and not much later his EP 'Our dear lady of the plains'. My conclusion was that the show was more of a promise than I could hear on the EP, although the EP certainly has its moments and especially 'Mind's eye tramp'. And is this promise met on Roll the dice?

Rogier Pelgrim featured in the Dutch national tv program 'The best singer-songwriter' 2012 edition. He did not win. That was Douwe Bob, who's debut album was also reviewed on this blog. Pelgrim's name was made up to a certain extend, making it possible for him to tour extensively in 2013. I still haven't seen a single episode of the TV show. Monday evening I do other things.

Roll the dice is an album I'm surely appreciating. It is varied, has some good music on it and shows the progression that an artist should show in the period between the debut EP and now. Almost all songs are better. Before we proceed, one warning has to be given. Rogier Pelgrim's voice may not be there for everyone to appreciate. It is high and shoots up at times as if in heavy distress. Those moments are just within what I can stand. So beware reader and I hope soon listener, as this must not deter you from listening to Roll the dice. Give this album a chance and you'll find references to the best singer-songwriters of the past 20 years. Damian Rice's miniature songs, that can be deeply heart-felt, come to mind, but you'll also find a twist in the voice of Rogier Pelgrim that you'll recognise immediately if you're a Jeff Buckley fan (and a reference "That was so real"). There's even a hint of Eels in there.

This is all well, you may say, but does Pelgrim deliver himself? For what my opinion is worth, the answer is yes. He invites, if not demands, his listeners to listen in the first song 'Listen', a modest ballad with a clear message and advice. 'The weight of the world' is an uptempo song which contrasts sharply with 'Listen'. 'Roll the dice' is something in between. The stop start start of the song is different. The tempo change is a release that is embraced. 'Roll the dice' is the best song I've heard of Rogier Pelgrim till this date. The full band environment is perfect here. The handclaps a great addition. In these moments Pelgrim makes his voice roar, where singing as a whisper is more his trademark. Soft and delicate is his natural environment. The roar definitely extra curricular.

Rogier Pelgrim is more a singer-songwriter in his presentation than Douwe Bob. (I'm not familiar with the other participants, so can't compare here.) He dares to present himself singing with just playing his guitar as accompaniment. Further on in a song elements may be added, like a synthesizer and a distorted spoken word in 'Quiet girl', at heart these songs make up a man with guitar album. The additions are the work of producers René de Vries en Martijn Groeneveld, who gave the songs nice wrap arounds. In the background you'll hear the voice of Jannica Woudstra. Together they duet in 'How we fell from grace', a nice extra feature of Roll the dice. There is potential in both sides of Rogier Pelgrim and proves that seeing a show in a full band setting is something to look forward to.

Variation grows with the waltzy 'Misery man'. It reminds me of many a song of the past, yes, but it has its own quality and distinction. No, Rogier Pelgrim is not extremely original on Roll the dice, but he stands his own ground. More so than colleague Douwe Bob. Postuma made a pop album with old flavours of which I truly like several songs, but Rogier Pelgrim is trying to find his own voice and comes a long way on his first full album. His songs are not primarily aimed at pleasing, but managing to do so anyway. Roll the dice is not the easy road. Is it a gamble? No, there's too much quality and dedication on this album to make it so.

Roll the dice as a whole is not an easy to digest album. Give it time and you will find that it is a rich album, holding great moments, nice songs and an artist that is presenting his best and is totally comfortable with where he's at. Rogier Pelgrim has made the perfect next step in his career and deserves recognition for it. Roll the dice is a special and good singer-songwriter album, that proves again the level of musicians in present day The Netherlands: high.


You can listen to 'Roll the dice' here.

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