Mix between country, pop, Schlager and rock elements
Very good songs overall
As the album travels through differnt genres, it also tends to touch tunes you may not like that much.
Undoubtedly, Van de Forst is one of the most interesting German acts in the country music scene. Her country / country-pop mix was already quite successful, especially on stage, where she supported major tour productions like the Ben Zucker, on which I saw her in November 2019. Thus, I was really curious when I was able to listen into her second album Unconditional, which will be released on 11th September 2020.
Van de Forst – About The Artist
Van de Forst is singer, songwriter and guitar player from Münster in Germany. She is 26 years old, her civil name is Vanessa von der Forst. She already gained quite much reputation with her 2015 debut album Lucky, which also made her support international acts like Bonnie Tyler and Michael Bolton, but also Andreas Gabalier, who is doing a mixture of traditional German folk and Rock’n’Roll. In the last two years, she also moved closer to the German country scene. Right before her Berlin C2C appearance 2020, I had a chat with her in my Spotlight interview section.
Van de Forst – Unconditional – Track by Track
The fourteen track album lasts 54 minutes.
1. Hey Cowboy
Sorry to say that, but the first track of the album reminds me a bit of German Schlager. Might sound very critical, but if you look what Schlager in fact is – simple, catching German pop – I feel that a song like this is a perfect starter for Unconditional. It introduces you into the album, gives you a good mood. Very well-done production.
2. Keeping Me Alive
Keeping Me Alive is a lovely slow song, feels like country music – but again is also not too “hardcore-country” alike for listeners of other genres. I enjoy listening to Van, even though she here and there has a touch of a German accent in her singing. Most Germans might not hear that – maybe overseas people even feel it to be cute somehow. Definitely a good track!
3. Back Where You Belong
The first ballad of the album. Nice background by steel guitars and other country music’s darlings. I live the song,but it feels not as catching as the first two ones of the album so far.
Not catching? Feels a bit like Van de Forst wants to give me some kind of angry critics with the title track. A lot of power, a great presence of her voice – I really love to listen to this song – especially the rhythm and presence is cool – and the electric guitars in the interlude even gave me a short head-banging – don’t tell that to someone 😉
5. I’m Only Fooling Me
With 3:02 minutes, I’m Only Fooling Me is the shortest song of the album. It nicely connects to Unconditional, even though it is not as powerful as the title track of the album. Step by step, Van de Forst is defining her style to the listener – very well set-up album so far.
6. Top Rolled Down
With Top Rolled Down, the album is now presenting a very thoughtful song. Emotional, intimate, not a very quiet one, though.
Springbreak is a catchy summer-party track. Definitely adding some flavors for the pop music lovers. Feels cheeky, like a young girl enjoying the day at the beach. Not my favorite, though.
8. Walkin‘ Away
Walkin’ Away is a lovely ballad, which has been released by Van de Forst in this version before the album already. Just a lovely song, I am sure, the young lady from Münster, Germany, is touching you here.
9. Paint This Town (2020 version)
After this emotional highlight of the album, Unconditional presents two songs, which have already been released by Van de Forst earlier. However, Paint This Town and Round The Bend are re-recorded. I loved the original of Paint This Town, but the slight adjustments makes the version definitely fit better to the other tracks of the album.
10. Round The Bend (2020 version)
Also in the 2020 version, Round The Bend is living from a very well-done and catching chorus. The remaining song may fall below that a bit. Still, a nice listen
11. Beautifully Burning
Beautifully Bunring is definitely not my favorite track – but it is very modern, very pop-alike. Thus, I am sure that it will attract people.
12. We’ve Got Tonight (feat. Tommy Reeve)
Van released the cover of this country classic before the album – and it is a lovely collaboration, still having a very own touch and style. I feel this song is another perfect example how wisely the album is set up and composed – ain’t a song like this (as long as you do not spoil it) something like a low-hanging fruit to win the heart of country music lovers? Nice interpretation, job completed in style, Miss de Forst!
13. Brighter Days
The beginning of Brighter Days has a touch of folk music – but overall, Brighter Days is heading more towards the Schlager direction. Even though it has a very different sound, it somehow connects to Hey Cowboy to me. The song is very melodic, though, which makes it a good mood one.
14. Don’t Fool Me
Take out your lighters (or for the younger people: switch on the light on your mobile), close your eyes… We are finishing Unconditional with deep emotions. The 5:40 minute ballad may feel a bit too soupy, but again I feel it is just a wise addition to the overall product. Unfortunatley, the bridge kills a bit the atmosphere to me – maybe they were afraid it is too much emotions within close to six minutes.
Van de Forst – Unconditional – Spotify
Here is the Spotify widget for Van de Forst’s album:
Van de Forst – Unconditional – My View
As you really have to dig deep in the music archives to have a listen to her debut album Lucky, this 2020 Unconditional is like a second debut, a new showcase. Van de Forst does it in an excellent way. It is a very good statement for both, her talent, but also for a good strategy of the team around her. Van wants to take the next step(s) on her career ladder – and this album is a great vehicle for that. Country enough that the local genre’s scene will like and support it (and, vice versa, that it will support the genre), but also pop enough to have a chance to get significant airtime. That also includes that some of the tracks might be a bit too simplified for the die-hard country fan, but to me it is a really enjoyable listen.