The Common Linnet is a small passerine bird of the finch family with a penchant for hemp seeds. The Common Linnets are a fabulous Dutch band formed in 2013 that play a delightful concoction of country, bluegrass and the sweetest classic pop. Ilsa DeLange, a sometime judge on The Voice of Holland TV show, is a well known celebrity in her native land and her co-vocalist Waylon, whose hero is the outlaw country superstar Waylon Jennings, is another famous face on the Dutch reality TV circuit. But there is nothing vanilla or anodyne about this pair: acquaintance with their music – the debut disc The Common Linnets – and a clutch of lovingly crafted singles, including the smash hits “Calm After the Storm” and “Give Me a Reason” (all 2014) – confirms a mercurial talent. The recent follow-up – ‘II’ is also wholeheartedly recommended. Although they have tended to regard the group as a project, or a “platform”, and have stressed a desire to work outside the confines of an act they never imagined would attain such success as it did, we reckon there is every chance the original duo will reconvene after releasing solo material. Given the clamour for product following the triple Platinum sales on the album, and their European credentials – they were runners up to Conchita Wurst of Austria in the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest, it’s inevitable that demand for their current autumn tour of the Netherlands will remain high, while Ilsa is now joined by the American folk and country songwriter and singer Jake Etheridge so we’re in safe hands.
Isla DeLange and Waylon (born Willem Bijkerk) both hail from the eastern part of the Netherlands where locals are occasionally referred to as heikneuters, from the songbird kneu – the Common Linnet that gives them their name. DeLange is from Almelo and as a child she won several talent contests, developed a love for country music and thus bumped into her soul mate and kindred spirit Waylon, a native of Apeldoorn, in the province of Gelderland. Working closely on original and cover material the pair made an immediate name for themselves when their single “Calm After the Storm” touched the UK top ten and topped charts in Iceland, Belgium and, of course Netherlands, turning Gold there as it would do in Austria and Germany.
The debut album was released via the Universal Group in May 2014 to rave reviews and impressive sales. Boasting thirteen original songs, co-authored by Ilsa, producer and band member JB Meijers, Rob and Mathew Crosby, Ethridge and co. the disc offers a stunning insight into the Common Linnets style, ranging from Carpenters styled pop to real country and western.
The stand out tracks “Calm After the Storm” and “Give Me a Reason” are well known but many of the other cuts have been released on download: “Hungry Hands”, “Arms of Salvation” and “When Love Was King” are outstanding examples of country pop. The Special Edition with bonus tracks adds five more acoustic versions of Linnets loveliness, also the seasonal “Christmas Around Me.” The music is available as Digital download, CD and on vinyl.
Having accepted the 2105 Echo Awards for Best International Newcomer Act they celebrated by releasing new single “We Don’t Make the Wind Blow”, the title song for the Dutch broadcast of the critically acclaimed American mystery/Sci Fi thriller Wayward Pines, starring Matt Dillon.
Best news of all is the arrival of a second album, simply called ‘II’ with 13 brand new songs, all written by the crew with a deluxe version containing six live band performances that showcase their unique sound. Key new tracks here are “That Part”, “Hearts On Fire”, “Soho Waltz” and the epic “Walls of Jericho”. We can’t wait to hear more from The Common Linnets and reckon that discovery of their songs will boost your day no end. A real listening pleasure, they really shouldn’t keep their sweet song a hidden secret. Enjoy discovering…
Words: Max Bell