Album #125: The Common Linnets – The Common Linnets

  • Released: 2014
  • Origin: Almelo, Netherlamds
  • Label: Universal
  • Best Song: Calm After the Storm

I’ve mentioned a few times that since starting this project, I’ve developed perhaps not a love, but certainly a partiality towards country rock. I suppose I’ve always appreciated the likes of Fleetwood Mac and Neil Young, but I thought they were mainstream enough to be liked by anyone.

I also have to confess to quite liking the naffness of the Eurovision Song Contest, and the Eurovision-centric TV over the weekend has reminded me of a song from the competition that I genuinely liked, and not even in an ironic way. It was the 2014 Dutch entry and runner-up, ‘Calm After the Storm’ by The Common Linnets.

On an evening full of the usual OTT stage presences and the constant identical Euro-beat, this melancholy country-rock duet really stood out. Assessing it outside of Eurovision, it’s maybe a little derivative, sounding a bit like a Fleetwood Mac song backed up by The Police’s ‘Every Breath You Take’, but it’s nonetheless a moving and classy song.

Surprisingly, the song didn’t make an impression on the UK viewing public on the night. They gave it no points and awarded their 12 to the memorable overall winner, Austria’s Conchita Wurst. Despite that, ‘Calm After the Storm’ reached #9 in the UK singles chart the following week, and later in the month their debut self-titled album broke into the top 40.

That album is what I’ve giving my time to today. It really is pretty strong, and I love the first five tracks, where aside from the aforementioned opener we have the moody ‘Hungry Hands’ and ‘Arms of Salvation’.

Towards the middle, the album goes a bit more pop and the songs are more vocally driven. The vocals, from both Ilse DeLange and her co-singer known as Waylon, are excellent throughout, but some of the middle tracks are not for me. Ironically, ‘Before Complete Surrender’ sounds a lot more like something I would expect to hear at Eurovision.

The end of the album sees a return to form, particularly with the fun ‘Time Has No Mercy’ and the more yearning and open-hearted ‘When Love Was King’.

Sadly, it seems The Common Linnets have done very little over the past five years. I wonder if they regret Eurovision and have struggled to shake off the tag. A case not of being out of their depth, but instead awkwardly sticking out in the shallow end.

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