Katvanger – So Late So Soon
Format: CD – Digital / Label: Independent
Text: Gerrit Schinkel
You start a new band and you come up with a name. That was what
Ruud Fransen was probably thinking. Bass player Ruud Fransen, a
co-founder, along with guitarist Ted Oberg, of Livin’ Blues, the Den
Haag-based blues band, came up with the slightly curious name
Katvanger for the trio he’s playing in these days.
“Katvanger” means an accomplice or perhaps a stooge. Some one who
engaged in crime, so not exactly a positive association, but according to
Fransen, it’s meant to be ironic. In addition to Fransen, Katvanger includes
the American – but longtime Dutch resident – singer-guitarist Jim Wake
and the Belgian-born lead guitarist Jan Vereçki.
Katvanger released its debut album, So Late So Soon, in mid-August, with
fifteen tracks: fourteen written by Jim Wake and one by Ruud Fransen.
They recorded the album on a vintage hard disk recorder in a tiny private
studio in Den Haag, mixed it on a pc in a living room, and mastered it more
or less by trial and error. With the CD version of the album you also get a
booklet with the lyrics.
Katvanger’s tunes are about pain and loneliness, the classic themes that
blues artists have sung about for generations, but in these songs they add
a generous dose of irony and sarcasm. They are songs without the frills,
stripped-down music devoid of drums, horns or keyboards.
Jim Wake’s gritty and sometimes growling voice frequently reminds me of
Tom Waits and Leon Redbone. A fine feature on the mostly mid-tempo
tracks is the three-part vocal harmony.
On songs like Gimme and I seen the light they speed things up. With
Peaceful Coexistence, Not the Reality I Ordered, and I Lost Again, you
can discern jazzy and vaudeville influences. Vereçki’s guitar work is clean
with some terrific solos and Fransen contributes fine bass lines – for his
own composition Time Never Mends a Broken Heart, for example. And
Wake adds some sweet-sounding harmonica on blues tunes such as Love
and Death in the Age of Trump, You Don’t Have to Worry, I Lost Again,
and I Seen the Light.
To sum it up: with its debut album So Late So Soon Katvanger has made a
record of quirky and honest blues that is definitely worth a listen.