Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Van Eijk-Where I Belong (1999)


If you like pop music, then sitting down in front of the computer screen and reading this next review of mine is right where you belong! It was through browsing the music profile on the database that I'd discovered the Norwegian singer, Stig Van Eijk, not then realizing that he too was a former competitor in the Eurovision Song Contest (and I've had the joy of listening to so many of the Eurovison talents over the past year or two). It wasn't long before curiosity got the best of me and I ended up in possession of his debut solo album, "Where I Belong", which gave me another opportunity for me to expand upon my cultural Norwegian music horizons. And expand upon them I did, because no less than six of the eleven songs featured here are headed for my playlists of favorites! The opening title track already foreshadowed that I was in for something real good here. After a nice and slow piano intro, this perfect pop song, which is about finally finding solace in the one he's waited for a long time to be with, evolves into quite the ear-appealing dance/pop rhythm while his fluid vocals melt over his honest words of 'you and me were meant to be'. I especially like how the song closes out with that dance/pop rhythm dropping out and his lasting words of 'no more tears' and ' it's over ' signifying that he's finally gotten to that place where he truly belongs. But the true pop breakout begins to erupt on, coincidentally, the follow-up jam called "Breakout"; I was electrified by the intro, the the tight beat and lovely chords serving as the backdrop to Van Eijk's lyrical confessions of being trapped by feelings and unable to set himself free. By the time I got to the funky jam, "Living My Life Without You", I mused to myself, 'wow—I really did make a good choice here!'.....or something to that effect; it's that funky synthesizing of the music indeed that keeps me hooked to this one! Not even halfway through the album was one of the most beautiful songs I've heard so far in this new 2017 year: "Sometimes I Wish". This tender, slowed-down number shows off the truly romantic side of the Norwegian singer, poetically singing about how he desires to fly away to a different world with his imagery of the rainbows and the birds painting an idyllic faraway paradise. In every pop music batch, there is always, always, always an unexpected and wonderful surprise awaiting me. This time, it was Track #6's "Be My Baby". Didn't know it until I got to the familiar chorus, but this turned out to be a slowed-down, trip-hop remake of THE RONETTES classic from the 60's; the familiar words of ' won't you please ' and 'be my baby now' that he sings while leading the chorus clued me in that it was exactly that! Very ambitious of him to add a hip twist with the rap during the midway break—and it works! "The One You Love": This simple warming mid-tempo song, which celebrates how good it feels to be with somebody you love, is one of those that sneak up on you and eventually grows on you as it moves along. "Still In Love" is another dance/pop beauty—the sad tonality of the chords of the accompanying guitar in the introductory movement instantly caught me before the full-out dance/pop beat broke through—that's also a real charmer, once you get into the lyrics. Great are unified voices in the main chorus, and it's those same voices repeating the 'still in love with you baby' during the beat drop break that totally make this jam stand out! "Sometimes I Wish" was just one place where Van Eijk doesn't have to rock out with the dance/pop to excite and thrill. Further evidence can be found on his other touching slow gems: "I Was There For You", the respectful acoustic guitar tribute to his mother "Don't Let Go" and this album's second unexpected surprise, "Goodnight Sweetheart", which is quite the classy, doo wop-inspired acapella number with lots of harmony to melt into your senses. "Where I Belong"—a fine piece of artistry that belongs in every pop lover's music collection:

1. Where I Belong
2. Breakout
3. Living My Life Without You
4. Sometimes I Wish
5. C'Mon
6. Be My Baby
7. I Was There For You
8. The One You Love
9. Still In Love
10. Don't Let Go
11. Goodnight Sweetheart

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