“The Other Side” is an album that Stefan van de Sande should be proud of. The lyrics are poetic and filled with colourful and creative imagery. The music is soothing and healing and the voice of the talented Jolien Damsma adds a delightful dimension to some of the songs.
The Other Side – Stefan van de Sande.
By Maria D’Alessandro (Melbourne, Jan 2017)
“The Other Side” is an album that Stefan van de Sande should be proud of. The lyrics are poetic and filled with colourful and creative imagery. The music is soothing and healing and the voice of the talented Jolien Damsma adds a delightful dimension to some of the songs. Martijn Kerkhofs also deserves a mention for his contribution and talents in mastering and E-Guitar.
The music is soothing and healing
I was amused to read the following statement that Stefan placed on the back of the CD cover:
“The recordings are made under normal living room and cabin circumstances. So, besides the sound of voice and instruments, you might hear the ticking of the clock, my right hand on the guitar, my left hand fingers on the strings, lip-smacking, breathing, birds and other natural sounds. But don’t worry. What’s on the CD belongs there!”
Indeed, what is refreshing about this album is that the performances sound genuine as though Stefan van de Sande is right there in the same living room as the listener, creating a feeling of intimacy between himself and the audience.
After listening to this album several times over the last few weeks, it is my pleasure to review it song by song.
1. “WANNA GO HOME” Stefan van de Sande’s new Album opens with a hopeful tune of longing to go home where a love one waits - a theme which touches us all. After all we have accomplished, after all the places we have been, after all the adventures we have experienced, there’s nothing like going home into the arms of a loved one.
“I wanna go home, I wanna go home,
To the place where she waits for me.”
2. “KINGFISHER” A song of simple admiration for the brightly coloured Kingfisher. But is it just a simple song about a bird? The Kingfisher is notably a symbol of peace and associated with a promise of abundance of new warmth, prosperity and love. Perhaps Stefan wishes all these virtues on his audience through this song. This is the first time on the album we hear the soothing supporting voice of Jolien Damsma as she sings solo parts and beautiful duets with Stefan.
3. “TIME TO COME HOME” is what could be described as a requiem song to celebrate the life of Stefan’s much loved ex-mother in law who was not only a caring mother and grandmother but also willingly helped others in her community. She was busy with fundraising to make it possible to build a hospice but ironically was not given to say goodbye, she became ill and died suddenly. This song is a journey through the mourning process that anyone might experience after losing a family elder. Comfort can be sort through God and his will - “It’s time to come home”. It is only when one loses a loved one that the true value of their life and the efforts they made to enrich the lives of others and one’s own life, are felt. The message here is that although this precious lady’s life may have ended on this earth, her dream of helping those in need will always live on. The music in this song truly suits the theme and Stefan and Jolien’s voices sound angelic.
... and Stefan and Jolien’s voices sound angelic.
4. “THE OTHER SIDE” is the song after which this album is named. This is a song of transition and of new beginnings. Stefan sings about fire being on the other side of winter and after the ice has melted, then he will cross the sea – that is, after hardship and turmoil, he will begin his journey to better places and progress to a more hopeful and positive state of mind. When he reaches the other side, when he finds his peace and his bliss, he will find “her” and settle down and make a home not only materially but symbolically as well.
5. “DREAM SONG” is a song of hope for a better world. A world in which “…there is no violence, No-one will be hurt.” A better time where “…there are no homeless begging for a dime”. Stefan makes references to the beauty of nature to distract us from the negative aspects of life and turn us towards the positive. We may not have total control over violence and poverty in our troubled world, but we can choose to focus on appreciating the peace and beauty of nature. Negativity and powerlessness is lessened as Stefan delivers us into the healing hands of nature. He sings of snow melting in the Spring and
“Little creeks are filled with water
Water, cold, fresh and clear.”
6. “SECRET OF LOVE” is a song that explores the mystery of love between two people. Perhaps it is futile to overthink why we love someone. There may be many reasons but could it just be as simple as, “Because we are just the way we are?”
7. “MAKE THINGS RIGHT” features duets with Jolien Damsma. This song begins with colourful and beautiful imagery of nature followed by a touch of anxiety in the last line of the first verse, “I thought of what we were going through, would we survive the storm?” The message here is that contentment is sometimes found in the simplest of places and even in our daily mundane rituals. Moments like watching TV, drinking a beer, going to dinner with your mother, chatting about the past, the present, the future and how time is moving too fast - continuously emphasize the everyday customs of being human and the uniqueness of moments that are not mundane but change our lives forever.
8. “GOOD MORNING” – a somewhat autobiographical account of the life of a Troubadour on the road. He wakes up in the morning physically alone but not emotionally. He has his lover on his mind and the warmth of the sun on his tent feels like the magic touch of her hand. Waking up to the cry of a gull, the smell of the sea, the salty air, views and sounds of the blue and green sea, a gentle breeze and “Birds that sing their melodies….” are the backdrop to the message in the last two lines of the song: “The truth is stronger than a lie, That’s what I learned from Magii.”
This is a true love song in every respect. It has the energy of romance, the joy of admiration, the reciprocity and gratitude of unconditional love
9. “FLORA FEE” is unapologetically my favourite song on the album. It is filled with intensity that can only come from a songwriter who deeply feels all the emotions that is expressed in the lyrics and music. This is a true love song in every respect. It has the energy of romance, the joy of admiration, the reciprocity and gratitude of unconditional love, a youthful touch of infatuation and mature love’s appreciation of all that is beautiful in a lover. The chorus “Flora Fee…” is simple but sublime and makes you want to sing along just to experience the deep sensation of worship Stefan is experiencing for his beloved. In the final verse is revealed the supernatural quality of Flora Fee, who is far more than just a woman to the besotted Stefan –
“She is a fairy
She doesn’t belong here
She is passing by
Flora Fee, Flora Fee”
10. “STOP THE MILL” is a call to each of us to search for those ultimate questions we all seek. “Go to the mountains………go alone….If you have a question, You can ask your Lord”. Once again we hear Jolien’s heavenly voice in this song sounding somewhat “country” which suits very well.
11. “FRUSTRATION BLUES" is a bluesy albeit, flippant song. Very cleverly written and occasionally “cheeky” which is typical of Stefan’s humorous side. Nice harmonica breaks here by Stefan.
12. “WILDERNESS” is the last song on the album. This waltz time tune has a haunting feel to it and we are once again drawn back into nature by Stefan “Where everything has it’s own time” and where one can find oneself. When life becomes difficult, sometimes it can be helpful to walk away and go to a quiet place in the wilderness. For those who are vexations and obstruct our path to peace and happiness, we are within our rights to ask them to go.
“I don’t wanna lose, I don’t wanna fight
If you wanna leave then go”
To summarize, Stefan has taken us on a journey. A journey into the wilderness to find our personal bliss, to move away from the negative aspects of life towards the beauty and balance that only nature can provide. He’s made us appreciate our loved ones on earth and beyond. He’s shared his dreams, his passions, his thoughts and even his frustrations. He’s allowed us to walk with him along the path less travelled. A path that sometimes needs to be walked alone and sometimes hand in hand with a beloved. In this album, Stefan reminds us that we are not truly alone as long as we have love in our hearts and feel at one with nature.