Sietske – Leaving Traces
(Berthold Records LC 27984. CD review by Mary James)
“Let the rain come, drops of silent silver sorrow.” What a beautiful image, one of many in Leaving Traces, the second album from Sietske Roscam Abbing, a Dutch vocalist and lyricist who has studied in the United States and taught in India. What strikes you immediately about this album is its clarity. It’s not just about the recording quality (which is flawless), or the packaging (striking and beautiful), it’s the vision, the words and emotions expressed. Her enunciation is so perfect so you can savour the lyrics without having to resort to the insert for the words. The lyrics are poems in themselves, expressed with perfect phrasing, emotional depth and confidence.
The titles are a feast for the senses – Chasin’ Rainbows, Let The Rain Come, Two Feet on Shore. There is an arc to the album – it opens in sunlight, washes through rain to the dark time of the year at winter solstice, then the irresistible pull towards summer, each experience leaving a trace, an impression, either physically or mentally.
Let the Rain Come is based on a Yiddish folk song called In the Darkness, but Sietske was not familiar with its title or lyrics. Instead, from her own listening, she captured its sadness and yearning and turned it into a love song. Herein lies her skills as a lyricist and singer, her ability to express her thoughts simply yet deeply and render them unforgettable with her beautiful gentle voice.
Most of the compositions are by pianist Dirk Balthaus, the remainder are by Balthaus and Siestke, and all the lyrics are by Sietske Roscam Abbing. Her band supports her very ably and responsively. Take the song Solstice where traces of shooting stars are imagined in electronic guitar washes from expressive guitarist Eran Har Even. A sensitive accompanist, Balthaus contributes a melancholy grounding to the songs.
This album will certainly leave traces in your heart for a long time for its entrancing atmosphere, deep wisdom and great beauty. Highly recommended.
Mary James, who lives in Gloucestershire, is a jazz promoter working with John Law and others. Twitter @maryleamington