Rotterdam - great first album

Jun 15 2012
Rotterdam - great first album

We had the good fortune to attend the launch of a new album on June 15. It’s by a band called “Rotterdam” and being wordsmiths we were drawn by one of the songs called “The ‘ings.” It’s a tribute to that element of grammar known as the “present continuous.” That is, words that end in “ing”, such as hugging and squeezing, dancing and romancing. It’s a rare song indeed, featuring the words “past participles” in the lyrics!
Rotterdam consists of Mandy van Zanen and Scott Armstrong and between her vocal skills and his instrumental talent, they are a quality duo. Mandy is Australian, but her Dutch background drew her back to Rotterdam, where the album was put together, and hence the band’s name. Here is a review.

It’s a cute idea, starting with the bubbly, alluring “Pink Champagne” and then finishing with the equally engaging but more reflective “Pink Champagne (The Morning After)”. Like all good celebrations, we storm our way from “bubbles flowing, music making, party growing” to “can’t remember, empty wallet, where’s my shoe?” But you certainly don’t get a headache from what’s in between. This is a remarkable work, a beautifully devised, written, performed and crafted meeting of two minds – the one, a soaring songstress, who has yet to realise just how good she is, the other a former punk bass player with a multitude of skills.
If ever an album embodies the words “eclectic” and “fusion” and “quirky”, this is it. From ska to skat, from ballad to barnstormer, from personal to poetic. Highlights are the break-up song, “Can’t Fight This Fight Again”, the ode to the present continuous, “The ‘ings”, the love-struck “On Sunday”, the AC/DC inspired “Waste Away” and the regal “Ozymandias”, incorporating the words of Percy “king of kings” Bysshe Shelley and a haunting chorus. To underline what a rare talent Mandy van Zanen is, a cover has been thrown in, Bacharach/David’s “The Look of Love.” It’s a wonderful treatment, showcasing a flawless style that has broken out of the strictures of classical training and embraced pop with ease. That’s a tough road to hoe; just witness the endeavours of some of the more celebrated divas who embarked on what appears to be an easy crossover and struggled with the vocal flexibility required.
Mix this stunning voice with the sublime musical skills and detailed production talent of Scott Armstrong and you have an extremely impressive first outing.