woensdag 8 maart 2017

Birds And Busy People. Rogier Pelgrim

Rogier Pelgrim has featured on these pages regularly. He played a support show for Handsome Poets in Paradiso in 2013 and since then his albums, a solo show and an interview can be found on these pages. Come 2017 and the follow up to his nice 'Roll The Dice' album fell into my mailbox.

The sympathetic singer-songwriter has a little something over many other artists. He is someone I discovered myself and was able to follow ever since. With some pleasant anticipation I put the cd in the player. Rogier Pelgrim does not disappoint and comes up with a fine album.

The first impression however of the album is the cover. Again Pelgrim comes up with an original design. A head, more the expectation of a head, filled in by my brain for me, made out of colourful birds. It's symbolic in a way as anticipation and expectation are closely related. It drew my attention to it immediately. First class work that catches the eye by Job van der Molen. Colours of natures wonders sets the stage for the album.

Birds And Busy People is a next step in Rogier Pelgrim's career. Not just as in a new album, but also in the vibe of the album. It is less naive, more solid than his work before this. In the lyrics Pelgim seems to have matured also, lived through more of life and confronts topics that may not necessarily be pleasant. It results in songs that are on the one hand more free flowing than before yet on the other the album holds songs that have an edge as well. The combination shows that he has grown as a songsmith.

Live 2013, Amsterdam. Photo by Wo.
The fact that 50% of Bløf has contributed to this album is another sign that Rogier Pelgrim has moved up in the world. 'Young Heart' is even co-written with Pascal Jacobsen. Most of the album is played by Pelgrim and his producer Pim van der Werken though, with additional drums and bass on some of the tracks. It is in the choirs and backing vocals that a lot of help was called for and received.

Something new is a flirt here and there with a more poppy element. Single 'Rat Race' holds handclaps, a wider sound and hey-heys. The song has a sense of urgency that is not found on most of the album. In that sense it would not be surprising if the opening song 'Stranger Than The News' will be the next single. Let's say that the success of Ed Sheeran has not gone by unnoticed. These are nice songs. The true hits of this album come later as you are about to find out.

Birds And Busy People is an album that has the brake on for a lot of the time. Many songs are constrained, kept small. Hear the restraint in 'Till It's All Right'. One of the finest songs on the album actually. The guitar in the background, creating that noise, is just begging to be released. Slowly swelling and descending, rising again. When a form of release comes, it is a drum that is let loose and another guitar. A perfect build up without letting go completely, making the achievement even more impressive. Rogier Pelgrim is playing with the expectations of his listeners, while keeping them mesmerised.

It is the way the album plays out that attracts me to it. More so than his previous albums. In a way on this album I'm reminded of Blaudzun, in voice and song, especially 'Cold Case Scenario', but only after I mentally strip all the bombast of Blaudzun away. So Rogier Pelgrim creates his own universe here. He has built up a distinct atmosphere with this producer Pim van der Werken. An atmosphere where he clearly feels at home and excels. This all comes together in the anthem of the album, 'Welcome Here'. An anthem with, again, the brake on. Where probably nearly every artist would have taken the opportunity to blow the song up to and beyond bursting proportions, Rogier Pelgrim shows restraint and sings with a 15 something choir. His only indulgence. To compensate the smallest song on the album, 'Even If', closes it all. That is to say, birds do, after the song itself is over. Another small link with Broeder Dieleman, who also has Peter Slager on bass?

With Birds And Busy People Rogier Pelgrim has made a great step forward. The three years between 'Roll The Dice' and this album have done him good. This album shows him ready to be noticed by more people.

Birds and busy people? If they all decided to look at the birds around them a few times a day, the problem would already have lessened. 


You can listen to 'Rat Race' here:


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