Wouter Hamel: Nobody's Tune (2009)
Wouter Hamel is a young vocalist of Dutch origin, touring the world successfully with his laidback and velvety sound. He surrounds himself with pop harmonies and rhythm lines, bridging the gap between jazz and pop in his own special way. Nobody's Tune, his second CD, is a cross between the musical fields of The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Apple, 1967) and a young crooner, with Hamel phrasing his songs and producing his lovely voice in a modern yet antique way. The tunes are all written by Hamel, except "Quite the Disguise," and it's like going back to the 1970s, mixing it up with folk, Burt Bacharach and some klezmer finishing touches. It is also well connected to the present, with the combination of old and new creating a unique musical playfield.
Nobody's Tune opens with "One More Time On The Merry-Go-Round" and "Big Blue Sea," both upbeat songs that showcase Hamel's unique sound and constant flirtation with pop and jazzpop being represented by the rhythm and melody lines, jazz by his way of singing and the occasional solo.
"In Between" is one of the finer examples of Hamel's style. "Takes me to places I have seen," quoting the song, hitting the spot. Hamel's buttery voice provides a nice contrapuntal response to the firmly folk-based rhythm line. "Sir Henry" falls into the same category, with a middle section that shakes off the rhythm, leaving Hamel exposed solely to piano accompaniment, reminiscent of Elvis Costello.
"March, April, May will make you sing and sway," is a fine example of a song delivering its text; Hamel switching between swaying, somewhere in the middle of the song, and ultimately back to Bacharach-ian harmonies.
"See You Once Again," combines an upbeat, ska-like tempo and rhythm line, and Hamel's voice as a soothing antidote, with Benjamin Herman's sax solo bringing the track back to jazz world. Herman builds the saxophone's presence throughout the song, making sure Nobody's Tune's jazz roots are not forgotten.
Track Listing: One More Time On The Merry-Go-Round; Big Blue Sea; When Morning Comes; In Between; Nobody's Tune; Sir Henry; March, April, May; Quite the Disguise; Once in a Lifetime; Tiny Town; See You Once Again; Amsterdam.
Personnel: Wouter Hamel: vocals, acoustic guitar, philicorda, autoharp, japanese bowls, crotales, mellotron, zither, backing vocals; Pieter de Graaf: glockenspiel, mettalophone, clavinet, wurlitzer, upright piano, hagstrom wind organ; Sven Happel: double-bass; Jasper Van Hulten: drums; Gijs Anders Van Straalen: percussion; Benny Sings: samples; Rogier Voorvelt: tambourine; Shirma Rouse: backing vocals; Folker Tettero: acoustic guitar; Morris Kliphuis: horn; Voice Enterprise: choir; Roos Jonker, Susan Zeegers: backing vocals; Leine: backing vocals; Henry Ronde: vocals, steel drums; Benjamin Herman: saxophone; Kyteman: trumpet; Kobi Arditi: trombone.