FolkWorld #73 11/2020
© Continental Record Services

Across the Western Ocean

Treasure Keepers

Treasure Keepers is the first real solo album by singer-songwriter Ad Vanderveen.

Ad Vanderveen

Artist Video Ad Vanderveen @ FROG

Performed alone in a studio / theater ambience with no audience, it features nine and a half new original songs and one and a half covers. The content and poetry are of a personal / spiritual / topical nature and are kept center-stage, framed by a variety of sounds, ranging from airy acoustic to grungy electric.

Starting off with a dedication to colleague, friend and mentor David Olney, who recently passed away, Vanderveen’s songs address subjects like life and death, creativity, change and pandemic times, as well as love transcending all of these in some more meditative pieces. The disc ends with Motherland, a grungy electric rendition of the Dutch national anthem, with Vanderveen’s own lyrics taking it to a more universal and spiritual plane.

Ad Vanderveen

Ad Vanderveen "Treasure Keepers", Continental, 2020

The other cover on Treasure Keepers is ‘If I Can Do It So Can You’ by Lee Clayton, a song Ad claims had a life-changing impact on him in the late 1970s. While the performances are spontaneous and minimal, the soundscape is intricate and has been realized with help of the the finest of people and equipment available in the field of audio.

Ad Vanderveen about Treasure Keepers: “I’ve often heard myself say ‘a song should be able to stand on its own two feet, but I’d never really made a record like that. It was time to practise what I preach: one shot on the spot with no overdubs – a bold and daring choice if I do say so myself – and if a song wouldn’t stand up to it, it simply wouldn’t come to life. It took a sense of ruthless vulnerability to present my new material in this way that turned out feeling very rewarding”.

Ad Vanderveen has earned a reputation as one of the finest singer songwriters in the contemporary folk and roots genre. Although born a Dutchman, half his family are Canadian and it’s this part of the world his musical roots can be traced to. Since the days before it was called americana, Ad has been exploring his songwriting muse through a mixture of rock ‘n’ roll, folk and country, working in many bands before finding his own voice as a solo artist in the early 90’s.

Since then, Ad has built up an impressive catalog of more than 20 solo CD’s and numerous side projects, working with many great musicians all over the world such as, Al Kooper, Al Perkins, Leland Sklar, Herman Brood, Flaco Jimenez, Iain Matthews, Eliza Gilkyson, Eric Andersen, David Olney, to name just a few. Recently in 2017, after hearing Vander veen’s latest album ”Worlds Within”, none other than Van Morrison, invited him as an opening act. Ad Vanderveen‘s live and record performances have garnered him high praise from critics, as well as from a long list of renowned colleagues.

Ad Vanderveen – A Brief Biography by Wim Bloemendaal

Singer/songwriter Ad Vanderveen lives, as he states in the third song on his album ‘Final Refuge’, in a town fifteen miles south-east of Amsterdam, affectionally dubbed ‘Tinytown’. When I ask him if most of his songs are autobiographical he nods: “Yes, although I’m a very private person and certainly not an exhibitionist, the writing of autobiographical stories is what’s driving me.”

David Olney

Artist Video David Olney @ FROG

Ad was born in a musical family. His father played the piano - making him the heart of many a party - and mother played the church organ. “No great wonder that the marriage did not last”, Ad muses. His mother was the only one who stayed behind when the rest of the family of nine emigrated to Canada during the fifties. Since the age of seven Ad visited his uncles and aunts and the ties with the new world helped give him a command of the English language seldom found in Dutch songwriters.

He got his first small guitar when he was nine years old and soon got his hands on a cheap larger one that really got him practising; before long he found a way to enhance the volume of the instrument holding it against a plank. This impressive sound led him to giving his first public performance, asking ten cents from neighborhood kids. He hesitantly started writing songs when he was around fourteen.

Says Ad: “I felt the potential, but I did not have the proper grasp and experience to express what I wanted to yet. I had no idea what kind of job I was cut out for, but certainly I felt that somehow it should have to do with music. I tried following some study in the field of classical music, though not for long, and later ended up working for a record company. Eventually I realized the commitment to my own music was too important and I quit. At the time I played bass in a couple of bands and wrote songs, but did not sing them yet, because I didn’t think much of my own voice.”

Through his record company connections Ad got an offer to make a country rock album so he had to form a band around himself, although unfortunately these recordings got shelved for 3 years before getting released under the name Personnel. It took some more years to conquer his insecurity, develop his guitar playing and singing style and to grow a repertoire, seeing it through extensive touring and many band line-ups.

In the early nineties there was another turning point when a radio DJ persuaded him to perform his songs alone. “I was put on the spot and discovered that I could do it - singing and playing my own songs. It was a challenge but it felt like the thing I had always wanted to do.” Since then, Ad has hit his stride and has released a long string of albums, garnering praise from music critics all over the world and a growing number of loyal followers. The latest is ‘Final Refuge’, a collection of songs revealing an artist growing towards a spiritual and creative homecoming in the later stages of his life.

»Ad Vanderveen sings simple songs. Songs about love, longing, wandering and coming home. He performs these songs with their familiar images in an unpretentious, matter of fact manner. His voice is a good one and his guitar playing is direct and honest. But we’ve all heard hotter licks and more acrobatic vocals. So, what makes these songs so unique and these performances so powerful? We tend to associate depth with complexity when, in fact, it is only the simple things that have depth. The truth needs telling just once while a lie needs to be repeated and embellished upon over and over again. You only have to hear Ad sing a song once to tap into its meaning and the feeling will grow stronger and deeper with more listenings. His music has an honesty and humility that is remarkable. In Latin, Ad means toward. There is a feeling of moving toward something in Ad Vanderveen’s music. Something deep. Something powerful.« – David Olney

Photo Credits: (1)-(2) Ad Vanderveen, (3) David Olney (unknown/website).

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