If there's anything quieter than Hans Theesink song, it's silence itself.
An exaggeration, perhaps, but not by much; Theesink, a veteran who's devoted much of his life to exploring blues and roots music, favors a muted, subdued delivery, both in his intricate yet delicate guitar work (he employs a veritable arsenal of stringed instruments) and his supremely relaxed vocals.
Originally from The Netherlands, Theesink is currently based in Vienna, where this collection was recorded. The playlist includes a number of tunes from 'Americana 101' - standards like "Wayfaring Stranger," "Make Me Down A Pallet On Your Floor," and "Delia" are a permanent part of the foundation, while tracks from Townes Van Zandt ("Snow On Raton") and Bob Dylan ("The Ballad Of Hollis Brown") are newer but equally iconic.
Theesink contributes half of the songs - seven of fourteen - but they fit in so seamlessly it's as though they, too, are part of our musical heritage. "New Home Upon The Hill" describes an apocalyptic flood, while Thessink himself says that "Take Your Picture" sounds "... so familiar that I thought it must have come from somewhere else." "Hellbound" is a moody, atmospheric tale of a deal with the Devil, inspired by Van Zandt's love of gambling and enhanced immeasurably by atmospheric steel guitar courtesy of Dave Pearlman, whose subtle touches add ethereal textures on a handful.
Other than that, there are tablas on "Katmandu," which doesn't sound quite as exotic as that and the name would suggest, and a bit of shaker on "Picture." Theesink's voice, though, at times little more than a soft growl, seems to convey a world of hard-won wisdom, though, and his work on guitar, banjo, mandolin, and harmonica is, though spare and sparse, absolutely exquisite. Theesink's hushed, almost reverential approach seems to find a spiritual quality in each tune, and his voice, again, resonates with the wisdom of the ages.
This one takes time - Theesink is in absolutely no hurry, and the many riches reveal themselves rather slowly. It's well worth the taking the time, though ... this is the work of a master.