Harlem Lake reside in A Fool’s Paradise

Harlem Lake resides in A Fool’s Paradise

Harlem Lake resides in A Fool’s Paradise This is a very creditable debut with eight strong, original and very well performed songs. It certainly bodes well for Volume Two

Bluesdoodles rating: 3 Doodle Paws – This a very creditable debut with eight strong, original and very well performed songs that certainly bodes well for Volume Two

Named after the Haarlemmermeer (Haarlem Lake) in their Netherlands homeland, Harlem Lake is a five-piece blues band (on record at least; when they appeared live in 2019, they were a twelve strong band that included a full horn section, but we all know what happened to live appearances.) This is their debut album, called A Fool’s Paradise and Vol1 is mentioned, so we can assume there is more to come. There is one other CD under their previous guise, the Dave Warmerdam Band, called Play, also available.

I was also drawn (pun intended) by the artwork that features a merry-go-round with beautiful heron’s instead of the normal horses, in a stylised forest setting. In addition to that, the prospect of new blues from the Netherlands (or any Scandinavian countries) is usually something to savour as those countries love their blues and have provided many a quality band. The band’s influences also bode well: Joe Bonamassa, Dire Straits, Little Feat and BB King are the ones mentioned on their website.

With the music coming predominately from Dave Warmerdam and lyrics by Janne Timmer who, despite writing in her second language, manages to craft delicious lyrical moments as the blending of Americana becomes bluesy Eurocana with a hint of soul and works well with a quality band behind them. There are horns backing many tracks and are uncredited and I think therefore they may be key-based…it does work though.

Kicking off with Deaf and Blind, we immediately get a taste of what is to come as hints of Southern blues-rock percolates around an intelligent riff with nice interplay between organ and guitar and Janne sings with restrained power using a fascinating lyrical melody. Double tracked guitars make the short bridge after which there are some neat rock phrases behind the vocals. The title track, A Fool’s Paradise, begins like a Wishbone Ash styled ballad and then quietens for the soulful and emotional vocals while the band play with empathy and skill and the sound moves a bit Floydian but the denouement solo is all original, crafted and quite lovely. The River begins with a slinky sexy slide and a true blues beat and, with Janne matching it all the way…the slide solo is brilliantly executed too if a lot too short but Dave adds a quality picked solo towards the end to make up for it. Guide Me Home is the second ballad but with a slower pace and a fragility communicated so well by the guitar and sensitive vocals…think Sam Brown fronting a Ken Hensley solo band: that is very much a compliment. Please Watch My Bag is one of my mantras when travelling was commonplace as Janne asks for said luggage (and coat) to go outside for a cigarette…here of course it’s an analogy for love’s tribulations. All set over an organ drenched backing of light and shade and complemented by a couple of excellent guitar solos. My Turn to Learn begins the journey to the South with neat picked slide guitar giving plenty of space for Janne’s vocals to shine…” the future is a blank page waiting for you to confess.” I Won’t Complain is the third ballad paced song with the added touch of harmony vocals from Dave and the crescendo of vocals leads to an excellent single, then a double-tracked guitar solo. I Wish I Could Go Running is the final track and, title wise, is total anathema to me…why would you want to? I am officially in the Fitness Protection Programme! The track is straight ahead blues-rock with Dave playing slap lead in the intro! It may employ an oft used blues trope, but it does work very well as Janne is running a long way from home and the band are tight and structured as they allow space for her to shine before we get two distinct parts to a very good solo that plays cleverly with the old blues guitarists stylings but still bang up to date.

This is a very creditable debut with eight strong, original and very well performed songs. It certainly bodes well for Volume Two when it appears and my name will be down for a copy when it arrives.

Harlem Lake reside in A Fool’s Paradise

Track listing
Deaf and Blind
A Fool’s Paradise
The River
Guide Me Home
Please Watch My Bag
My Turn to Learn
I Won’t Complain
I Wish I Could Go Running

Dave Warmerdam: keyboards
Janne Timmer: vocals
Sonny Ray van den Berg: guitar
Benjamin Torbijn: drums Kjelt Ostendorf: bass

Connect with Harlem Lake across SOCIAL MEDIA
Official Website

(iTunes brought me a taste of Hash Brown…just the one! Hash Brown in my collection is actually a blues guitarist, singer and harp player from Dallas (real name Brian Calway) who has a couple of albums out but I discovered him on a compilation called Shut Up and Play Yer Blues which gathered instrumentals from as far back as 1948 to give an eclectic, bluesy and lovely mix. Hash’s contribution was called Side Tracked.)

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