Bart Oostindie: Welcome To The Costume Ball (2008)
He's one of the most promising Dutch singer/songwriters, at least that's how multi-instrumentalist Bart Oostindie is presented in the Dutch media. Like his friend and colleague Skinnie Jones, with whom he collaborated on the captivating My Heart Beats On The Moon (REMusic, 2008), Oostindie's strength got built up from performing live. As a street musician he roamed outside the boundaries of his native country the Netherlands. As a southerner, he returned to his roots and sought the benefits of studying jazz guitar, first at the conservatory in bourgondic Maastricht followed by a few years in Amsterdam.
Welcome To The Costume Ball is Oostindie's full-grown answer to his debut EP Grandson (Inbetweens, 2005), which immediately drew attention and won an important Dutch award. Accompanied by a cast of friends and seasoned jazz musicians from the south, he paints a collection of stories, sounds, rhythms and rhymes to enjoy from beginning to end.
The overall mood is gentle, with a few invitations to tap the feet or wiggle the hips while cruising various genres in music: from folk to country, Americana, pop, blues, lounge and jazz. There's even a nod to classical in "Little Lullaby," which excels because of its haunting string arrangements. Its repetitive lyrics "go on, go on, with your sweet little schemes yeah"are set against a melodic structure that lingers on in pace with the violins and cello, building up the visualization of a little girl's prelude to her night and the next day. It's easy to imagine this song with animation because of its strong cinematic appeal.
Highlights and surprises are many on this album. There's not a weak track among the twelve songs with one cover, namely Nick Drake's "Day Is Done," which in Oostindie's adaptation sounds pretty dark and obscure compared to the original version.
Oostindie's guitar playing skills are beyond any doubt, at times his voice carries a hint of Boz Scaggs and he even scats away a la George Benson in "1,2,3," which has been released as the first single. While there isn't a weak track on the album, weak moments do arise, however, amidst what is otherwise a project to be proud of. The horn section tickles the senses in "Where I Belong," but on "Nothing More," they could have done the intrinsic value of the song justice if they'd spiced it up a little and blown their notes with spark and passion. Then, nothing more would have been left to be desired.
Track Listing: I Long; Welcome To The Costume Ball; Nothing More; 1,2,3; Sweet John; Smile The Blues Away; Little Lullaby; The Question; Tough Boy; Where I Belong; Day Is Done; God Bless America;
Personnel: Bart Oostindie: lead vocals, backing vocals, all guitars, mouth harp, clavinet, phillicorda, solina, bass guitar; Mike Roelofs: Rhodes, wurlitzer, pianet, piano, Hammond, backing vocals; Sjoerd Rutten: drums, percussion; Jo Didderen: double bass; Ryan Carniaux: trumpet; Brendan Carniaux: tenor saxophone; Peter Hermesdorf: tenor saxophone; Shannon Lyon: guest vocals (3); Laie Lee; first violin; Sophie Gabriels: 2nd violin; Jeroen Beckers: alt violin; Marie-Jose Didderen: cello;