Album Review: Agua de Annique - Pure Air (2009)


18. Apr. 2012, 5:31

Agua de Annique - Pure Air

My first introduction to the amazing singer Anneke van Giersbergen was by listening to this album. I bought it (somewhere in the first half of 2009) because of a recommendation of a webshop, which was based on some gothic metal albums I ordered earlier. I listened to some samples of the songs and was quite surprised about the recommendation, because this didn't sound like gothic metal at all! It reminded me a bit of the Dutch singer Mathilde Santing. Beautiful, soft, singer-songwriter music, a bit melancholic and very suitable to dream away on. Just by listening to the samples I was already quite impressed by the beautiful sound of her voice and decided to buy the album. Later I discovered the link between Anneke and gothic metal music. Pure Air is Anneke's second solo album since she left The Gathering in 2007, and it is the softest, most acoustic album she has ever made (up to now). In fact it is not really a studio album, but more a compilation of some acoustic versions of songs from her first solo album Air, some duets that were not released previously, and some covers. The album starts with the Damien Rice cover The Blower's Daughter featuring Danny Cavanagh (from Anathema) on guitar, keys and backing vocals. I've never heard the original version, but I like this one. The way she sings is very beautiful, subtle with lightness and powerful at the same time. The next song is Beautiful One, originally from Air, but this time together with Dutch singer Niels Geusebroek, who is one of the participants of The Voice of Holland at the moment. A great song and one of her best in my opinion, but I like the original (solo) version better. Wild flowers is a translation of the Dutch song Wilde Bloemen of Dutch singer-songwriter Frank Boeijen (not to be confused with the keyboard player of The Gathering, who has exactly the same name). It is beautifully sung, but I don't really like the melody. The album continues with a different version of Day After Yesterday, also originally from Air. This version is together with Dutch singer Marike Jager. Also this is a great song, but again I prefer the original version. The next song Come Wander with Me was composed by Jeff Alexander and was used in the American television series The Twilight Zone in 1964. This was actually the song that reminded me most of Mathilde Santing, but I probably already knew it because it was used in a Dutch commercial for an insurance company. I really like the sound of the trumpet, played by Kyteman. Normally I am not so fond of brass instruments, but in this song it is really adding something. It makes this version more interesting compared to the original one. Then we arrive at one of the songs I really love, named Valley of the Queens. I just love the melody with this kind of folk influences, the lyrics that are inspired by the ancient Egyptian culture and especially the use of the wooden flute. The song is originally from Arjen Lucassen / Ayreon, from the album Into the Electric Castle, but this is a different version with a more acoustic sound, which I like even more. The next song is probably my most favourite song on the album, which is a duet with John Wetton named To Catch a Thief. I loved this song from the first time I listened to the album. It's so beautiful, the lyrics are great and a bit dramatic and their voices fit so well together. I always try to sing along with this song, but I really shouldn't, because I cannot reach the high notes at all which give a very awful sound. :-) The album continues with another cover, this time of Alanis Morissette's Ironic, which actually is one of my favourite songs, but I don't like this cover very much. I just think this song needs the voice of Alanis, without it something is missing. The album continues with What's the Reason?, another kind of duet with Niels Geusebroek, who also wrote the song. It is a song that is not really special to me. Next song is a different version of another Air song: Yalin. Notice the subtle difference in her age she is singing about: on Air it's 34 and on this album 35. The lyrics are quite cryptic and most likely about someone who has passed away. I am wondering if this song is about the same person as The Gathering's song Jelena. Somewhere is maybe the most well-known track on the album. The song is originally by Within Temptation from their album The Silent Force and this version is a duet of Anneke with their singer Sharon den Adel. Although I like the song, it is not one of my favourites. I just don't think their voices sound very well together. They have very different kind of voices and a different way of singing which doesn't fit very well in my opinion. Although I like the live version on Within Temptation's Black Symphony a little bit better than this acoustic version. Next song is Witnesses, also originally from Air. This version is really different from the original one, which I saw performed live several times and is great and very compelling. But also this acoustic version is great, it's more narrative, giving an idea of what happened when the Jehovah's Witness came to her door. While the original version is showing more of the emotion and anger she felt. The last song is a cover of Frankie Goes to Hollywood from the 80's, and one of their most famous songs: The Power of Love. This acoustic version is a bit weak, especially when compared to the original song, which I don't really like but is still a lot better in my opinion. The title of the album Pure Air and the picture on the cover of Anneke with very natural make-up, fit with the soft, pure and acoustic nature of the album. The album doesn't contain a real booklet, but more of a leaflet with all credits and thank-yous and a personal message of Anneke, which is nice. I think this will always remain a very special album to me as it was the first time I heard Anneke sing. I really love its soft, soothing sound and of course her amazing voice.

Best tracks: Beautiful One, Day After Yesterday, Valley of the Queens, To Catch a Thief, Yalin, Witnesses

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Akzeptierte Übermittlungen
Anneke van Giersbergen, Real Journal Entries
Unbestätigte Übermittlungen
Agua de Annique


  • MustBeDreaming1

    Oh, Anneke reviews, it's so nice! :-) I generally agree about the best songs, for me it's Beautiful One (my favourite version, btw), To Catch A Thief and Witnesses (I really like the way it's transformed into acoustic version, but the original is better for me). Also I agree about Ironic cover... Strange choice, but it's always a great fun to see two of your favourite artists crossing over :-) About Somewhere - I prefer the acoustic version from An Acoustic Night At The Theatre to all the other ones, I think that there their voices sound the best together, and the instrumentation, and the atmosphere. Pure Air version is beaautiful, but accompaniment is a bit poor, imo. On Black Symphony two ladies don't fit each other well for me, I never really liked that version... Generally about the album - I think it's a bit boring, I need a special mood to listen to it and not to fall asleep :-) But it's also special for me, it's also the first solo album of Anneke I heard (after The Gathering, though) :-)

    26. Apr. 2012, 10:38
  • irisvanhoorn

    Thanks again! I always like to read your comments :-) I don't like the male voice in this version of Beautiful One very much, so that's why I like the Air-version better. For Witnesses I can't choose... I love them both. And also great to hear To Catch a Thief is one of your favourites as well, this song is very special to me. One of the first Anneke songs I heard and loved. I used to play it over and over again! Reading this I think I have to check out the "An Acoustic Night at the Theatre" album of WT. It will be on my to-listen list (together with so much more... and not enough time...). I agree with you about the boringness of Pure Air, but that makes it my favourite album to listen to when I have sleeping problems ;-)

    27. Apr. 2012, 13:49
  • MustBeDreaming1

    :-) I should say I really like both the male voice in Beautiful One, and the way this voice fits Anneke's one. And I like this more gentle atmosphere of the acoustic version :-) I'm not really a fan of that Acoustic Night At The Theatre, I think that WT had much more interesting acoustic performances, but its version of Somewhere is really the best one for me, tell me your thoughts when you check it out :-)

    7. Mai. 2012, 10:14
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