If there's one thing you should know about Anouk, it's that she tells it like it is. "If you need a servant go find someone else," she lets people know on "If I Go," a track from her new album "Who's Your Momma."
In her personal and professional life, Anouk has always refused to play the victim or have people take advantage of her. Instead, the singer turns her frustration and disappointment into strength and confidence, which gives her music an assured sense of self that is inherently rock 'n roll.
On her aptly-titled new album, "Who's Your Momma," the Dutch rocker expands her bold and powerful repertoire with an impressive collection of hearty rock stompers and gut-wrenching ballads. In fact, after building a reputation as The Netherlands' most accomplished rock diva, Anouk shows off a sound that is surprisingly milder than her previous work. (Listen to tracks from the album here or get it on iTunes.)
The big question now is if "Who's Your Momma" will
finally give Anouk the attention stateside that many believe she
deserves. She had a tremendous shot at fame in the U.S. back in 1998, but her headstrong ways got her into a huge argument with Sony Music boss Tommy Mottola. The screaming match between the music mogul and the aspiring international superstar led to the immediate cancellation of Anouk's launch in North America.
With "Who's Your Momma" she opens the door once again for commercial success outside of Europe. It is an album that features a slick sound that is decidedly international. Plus, her powerhouse vocals can easily compete with the voices of the best rock singers in the business. The question remains, however, if she is willing to mold her act to fit the cookie-cutter expectations of many American listeners.
After the release of her last album "Hotel New York" in 2005, Anouk took some time off from the hustle and bustle of the music biz to take care of her three young kids. Earlier this year, she felt the time was right to start recording new music again. She traveled to Los Angeles to work with master producter Glenn Ballard (Alanis Morissette, Annie Lennox) who produced this entire new record. The songwriting was in the very capable hands of Anouk herself together with long-time writing partner Bart van Veen and her husband Remon Stotijn.
The album kicks off with the blazing rocker "If I Go" that goes well with Anouk's black & white portrait and gun that is pictured on the CD sleeve. She is fed up and gives her lover an ultimatum. "You need to take a good look at yourself 'cause I'm about to close up shop. If you need a servant go find someone else. It's time to step up," she sings.
It is followed by the playful "Might As Well" that displays Anouk's incredible vocal control. She twists and tweaks her vocal chords in a quirky, yet razor-sharp manner that totally wowed me the first time I heard it.
Glenn Ballard wrote the excellent ballad "Make It Rain," one of the disc's centerpieces with its steady verses that lead up to a climatic chorus that is clearly written for prime time.
In typical straight-up Anouk fashion, the singer gives listeners her piece of mind about modern-day idiosyncrasies on the bluesy "Modern World." She sings, "These days adoption is a hot thing. You can get a child for nearly nothing. You take them home to a nanny. Buy off your guilt with toys and candy, but all the money that you work for girls, can't compare it to love boys. There's only one thing they can't fix. No I won't let your be mislead. And that's the hole in your head."
Anouk shows off more of her spunky attitude on the album's first single "Good God," a ''60s style rock joint packed with a buzzing horn section that could easily be from the hands of Mark Ronson or even Phil Spector. An obviously single choice with a glowing, international appeal.
More ballads follow from the reflective "I Don't Wanna Hurt" and "Daze" to the heartfelt "If You Were Mine" that fully relies on Anouk's emotive vocals and lead piano.
"Who's Your Momma" is a gem of an album that presents a huge opportunity for Anouk to take her music abroad. Once again, she comes out kicking on top. (A big thank you to Anouk for sending me a copy of the record. Je hebt echt een super plaat gemaakt!)
("Who's Your Momma" is not available in record stores in North America. However, you can purchase the entire album in MP3 format on Amazon.com.)