DeWolff — Love, Death & In Between (Mascot)
Soul-stirring sheep in DeWolff’s clothing?
That just about sums up yet another compelling curveball from rock’s most unpredictable trio.
The Dutch masters have made a habit of eschewing the norm.
And true to form the enigmatic Love, Death & In Between offers more musical tales of the unexpected.
Lyrical themes partly inspired by the king of character-focused fiction, John Steinbeck, are set against a joyous backdrop of soul-soaked R&B.
But have the so-called psych rockers (as described in the band’s increasingly incongruous bio) gone soft?
Not so much.
The melodies might be sweet, the riffs gentle and the vocal harmonies stolen from The Staple Singers but don’t be fooled.
There’s a Steinbeck-inspired steel at the heart of this meandering tour de force.
And there’s true power in affecting songwriting that tugs at the heart and teases the senses.
For two years running DeWolff dropped Rushonrock Records Of The Week.
2020’s low budget, high reward Tascam Tapes stripped away any notion that the van de Poel brothers and buddy Robin Piso were set to play it straight.
And the following year’s Wolffpack mixed Southern Rock, psych and soul to create a lockdown brew as intriguing as it was intoxicating.
So here they are again.
Celebrating a hat-trick of seriously sublime game changers, DeWolff seemingly know no bounds.
Avidity trumps ambiguity on this gloriously ambitious album.
Love, Death & (Absolutely Everything) In Between
Think Ray Charles and Little Richard.
Vintage Trouble and Terence Trent D’Arby.
Sam Cooke and Al Green.
Love, Death & In Between is a curiously contemporary take on gold-plated rock and soul.
But none of the above ever attempted anything quite like this.
For starters there’s the sensational 16-minute Rosita.
Flourishes of Hammond, a wall of horns and gospel-styled vocals complement a notably nuanced narrative.
This aspirational peak is DeWolff in a nutshell: fearless, flawless and a creative force of nature.
Of course, collaboration was key to Love, Death & In Between.
After the isolation of lockdown, the band reached out to old friends and new recruits as they set about shaping this buccaneering body of work.
And there’s a genuine sense of togetherness coursing through 12 songs birthed in Brittany at the back end of May 2022.
Recorded analogue and direct to tape there are distinct echoes of Tascam Tapes’ back-to-basics charm.
But when you peel back the layers and dive right in this is more like Wolffpack in its bold artistry and aural thrust.
On Heart Stopping Kinda Show and Message For My Baby there’s a sense that DeWolff are truly connected to the soul brothers and sisters who inspired Love, Death & In Between.
It’s easy to imagine Pablo, Luca and Robin suited, booted and rooted in quasi-religious delta blues.
In fact Love, Death & In Between is like some kind of rock and soul sermon circa 1930.
And its message to the doubters is don’t miss out.
DeWolff dare to be different and dare to believe.