The story on how the new album by the Dutch band Room Eleven came to be sounds identical to the music on that album. Supposedly, they posted a message on the MySpace account of Dayna Kurz, with a request to recordtheir new album in Kurz’s studio. Apparently, this is exactly what happened. This bright sunny-side of life attitude clearly influences this band, for it sounds on their album vibrantly.
Recently, Room Eleven performed at the Radboud University in Nijmegen. I could simply walk out of my room and go enjoy their performance. Great! Unfortunately, the stage hadn’t been positioned that well – between large buildings – which influenced the sound quality negatively, but nevertheless I was excited that Janne Schra’s voice sounded as lovely as it does on the album. Her joy of performing was overwhelming.
They mainly played songs from their new album `Mmm … Gumbo?’. At first, I had some difficulties to get familiar with the music on that album. Soon, I found their song ‘what will it be’ the most interesting, combining syncopes, changes in tempo and a change in meter. After that I was caught by the vocally joyful ‘Lalala Love’.
The most intruiging song to me is the duet with Dayna Kurtz. The moment Kurtz starts to sing (after Janne Schra has sung the introduction) I was reminded of her vocal superiority. At first listening, the richness of Kurtz’s lived voice completely overwhelms the so much lighter voice of Janne Schra. However, only when both singers perform together in the refrain, the complementarity of their voices became clear to me. The lightness of Janne Schra’s voice suddenly became an instrument a joy to listen to.
After that moment, the album opened up to me. I heard the French influences. It is almost as if Room Eleven has summarized the complete soundtrack of ‘Les Triplettes de Belleville’ in their song ‘Ode’. I find it enthusiasmating. I fully appreciated the calmness of voice similar to Nora Jones, the fragility in `Swimmer’, the musical color resembling the Indigo Girls in `Rainy days in the sun’, and foremost the joy in Janne Schra’s voice. All this make `Mmm … Gumbo?’ a marvelous album.