An intimate and wonderful atmosphere.
“THE PINK BALLOON “ - reviewed by John Smies
Notwithstanding the fact that both Stefan van de Sande and I hail from the same area in Holland we did not meet until 2017 when he was performing at a bar on the beach here in the province of Zeeland. We have been in touch ever since and have shared many of our musical experiences being an amateur (home) musician myself. It goes without saying that my wife (Annemieke) and I have collected virtually all of his albums, including his latest release: “ the Pink Balloon”.
First of all let me say that I am impressed by the whole concept that has been taken very well care off. From the cover, the booklet, the instruments used and the themes addressed.
The entire Album breathes an intimate and wonderful atmosphere enhanced by the use of the aerophone ( an instrument I had never heard of before…) the additional vocals of Liseth Horsten and last but by no means least Stefan’s professional command of the guitar and banjo. All of these contribute significantly to making this one of the best if not the best Album that Stefan has made so far in my humble opinion. Now as to the individual songs:
1. “LEVEN” (LIVING)
Yes, Dutch lyrics but quite interesting ones, combined with a melody that having heard it a few consecutive times lingers in your head….its theme can be summarized as follows: “….you have to move along in life or things will grind to a halt…..”
Mellifluous melody due to the wonderful combination of guitar, banjo and aerophone, as well as Stefan’s vocals and the additional vocals by Liseth Horsten….
3. “THE PINK BALLOON”
Utterly captivating lyrics combined with inspirational guitar playing (and guitar sound !) and some lovely instrumental breaks.
4. “THE GOLDEN EAGLE”
Slightly more uptempo song this time with a pleasant melody, lovely breaks and a beautiful Aerophone combined with most interesting lyrics. One of my favorites on this Album
5. “ROBIN STONE”
A short melody based on an old Dutch nursery rhyme. Quite inventive but not my cup of tea…
Once again some inspiring orchestration even if the lyrics are somewhat confined… Quite relaxing though….
7. “DE DIJK “ (THE DIKE)
Outstanding song all the more so if you can grasp the meaning of the lyrics which are in Dutch.( But you can always translate them into your own language via www.deepl.com ) The lyrics here are among the best and great harmony with the guitar and Stefan’s vocals. Added an emotional aspect he touches upon in the last verse, dedicated to a good lady friend who passed away this year…
8. “THE TREE”
Once again I am struck hearing all of these instruments unite in a most soothing melody which reflects the general mood of this Album quite well….
Definitely my favorite song on this album. Wonderful guitar playing , deep and warm vocals at the base of a great narrative…
10. “DER FRÚHE VOGEL”
Apparently inspired by a famous German comedian and as such will have more appeal to German listeners. Still, quite ingenious though and it beats Robin Stone ☺☺
11. “THE WATERMILL”
Soothing sound and melody well supported by his excellent banjo playing and with a Truism if ever there was one:
“ ….you’ve got only one life to live …..”
Koudekerke, November 2023