The Cotton Soeterboek Band
Released: 2008, Caf Fine Records
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
Dutch hard rock singer meets Southern boy guitar player, that’s the story behind The Cotton Soeterboek Band. Guitar player Alan Cotton’s resume includes a touring stint with Maestro Alex Gregory, some commercial studio work, and a strong influence in blues based rock and roll. Vocalist Robert Soeterboek has some previous records under his belt with the progressive tinged Ayreon and Wicked Sensation. The union of Cotton and Soeterboek seems an unlikely one, but the result is an enjoyable ride in the form of their debut full length, TWISTED. For the recording of TWISTED, the band was rounded out by Mike Davis on bass, Reynold Carlson on drums, and After Forever keyboardist Joost Van Den Broek. As this is really the brain child of Cotton and Soeterboek, the performances of Davis and Carlson take a back seat to things, however, Van Den Broek’s keyboard fills on TWISTED add an important element to the proceedings.
TWISTED is straight up southern fried, blues driven, unpretentious classic rock and roll. Influences of early Deep Purple, Whitesnake, and Lynyrd Skynyrd abound heavily throughout the 9 tracks that make up TWISTED, so fans of that era should get a kick out of what The Cotton Soeterboek Band has to offer.
The first cut “Set Me Free” sets the pace for the rest of the disc, with thick keyboards complimenting Cotton’s guitar fuzz. Soeterboek’s voice bears an uncanny resemblance to David Coverdale, albeit without range. Still, the combination of elements creates an atmosphere that feels comfortable and familiar. “Pretty Maureen” follows, a track written about Soeterboek’s wife, and is pretty standard hard rock fare. The “yeah yeah, ooh-ooh-ooh” that leads the title track is campy and clichéd, but fits the groove of the song works to its benefit. The Beatles-esque “Colorado” is one of my favorite tracks on the record, paying homage to the landscape of the namesake state. “Little Sister”, “Leave Me Blue,” and “Gold and Gray” play up the Skynyrd influence big time, full of country twang in the guitars emphasizing Cotton’s southern roots. “Still of the Night” has some catchy piano runs and a danceable groove that feels like it would be at home on the jukebox of your local biker bar. The album closer, “The Game”, is arguably the best cut on the disc. While still an upbeat tune, it’s a little darker than the balance of TWISTED and shows Soeterboek summoning his best Ian Atsbury impression to deliver some dirty swagger to the mix.
TWISTED doesn’t break new musical ground by any means, but that’s not really the intention. The Cotton Soeterboek Band sets the expectation up front that “what you see is what you get”. My only real gripe about TWISTED is that it sounds entirely too sterile for this style of music. Bands like Skynyrd and Purple sounded their best when they cut loose and captured those results on warm analog recorded vinyl. TWISTED is too cold and digital and as such suffers because of it. There are a couple of spots on the disc where the band feels like they want to let loose and have some fun, but stick to business and methodically continue with the basic verse / chorus / verse / chorus / solo / chorus structure of the songs. All that being said TWISTED is a fun debut full length from a curious union of musicians. If your radio is preset to the local classic rock station or if you’re a fan of the bands mentioned in this review, you’ll probably find some enjoyment in TWISTED.