Katvanger – So Late So Soon

Format: CD – Digital / Label: Independent

Release: 2020

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.

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