You never know where you can find great music in this big world we live in. While there’s plenty of fantastic country and Americana music right here in the United States, there’s a lot outside of our borders too. Places like Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom regularly have artists who release great music that every country and Americana fan should check out. But then sometimes I’ll get something even outside these countries and when curveballs like this show up in my inbox, I pay attention. Coming from Rotterdam, the Netherlands, meet Americana artist Maurice van Hoek. He’s a new, up and coming artist who is inspired by the likes of Ryan Adams, the Eagles and Sturgill Simpson. His band is made up of David Gram, Stan de Kwaadsteniet, Danny van ‘t Hoff and Rafael Schwiddessen. They formed after Hoek traveled to America and explored the country where he found the style of music he loves to make. This resulted in Hoek’s debut album Live Forevermore. And folks this is an album I can’t believe more people haven’t heard.
The grooving “I’ll Be On My Way” kicks the album off. It’s essentially a song about a rambling man, who tells his woman to let him go and be on his way, as that’s what he’s meant to do. Hoek has an effortless way about his vocals and dare I say an even soulful vibe about it. The album’s title track is grounded in some solid harmonica interludes. Hoek sings of letting love go and knowing he’ll be better off being honest with himself and her. On “Whisper To The Moon,” pedal steel guitar rings throughout. It’s about a man wondering if he’ll ever see his love again as he travels the open road. He also wonders if she’s looking up at the same moon as him. It’s a troubadour coming to terms of having fallen in love with someone. “Last Light” sees the man running back to his love, as he can’t stand to be away from her. He has to travel through many lights, but he knows the last light will be hers. It’s a simple little love song that really shows off Hoek’s storytelling chops. Maurice Van Hoek clearly draws on his trip to Texas on “Rain In Austin.” The heartbreak song is well-arranged, with steel guitar and a subtle organ in the background. It really sets the tone of the song well and puts you in the place of the heartbroken person.
A harmonica and pedal steel guitar rings in “Follow You Down.” It’s about a man who knows he in love, but he keeps “twirling around the truth.” He eventually realizes he needs to follow this feeling and show his love for her. The instrumentation shines throughout this album, but if you’re like me and love some great harmonica play, this might be the best track instrumentation wise on the album. The great harmonica play continues into “Life We Had Together.” The song is about a man reflecting on the life he had with his ex and tells her that if she ever wants to have it again, the door is always open to her. He reflects too on what led to them parting and takes some of the blame of why their relationship fell apart, but now is doing what he can to get her back. This song features some of the best songwriting on the album and arguably the best on Live Forevermore.
“Be My Wine” is a song you’ll be singing along with from the first listen. It’s an upbeat love song with some fun instrumentation and catchy lyrics. Many love to stereotype Americana music as slow and boring, but songs like these prove those claims wrong. This is definitely another standout on the album. Up next is “Pursue Your Star.” It’s an inspirational song about refusing to let the world get you down. Even if you feel like everyone around you has given up on you, that shouldn’t prevent you from pursuing what you want. “Union Square Rain” captures a person in a depressed state of mind, someone aching for the sun to come back in their life. The instrumentation in this song gives it an almost dreamy feeling, like you’re floating through life. It’s eery, yet beautiful. Hoek really digs deep with this song and gives us a glimpse of the best he has to offer with his music. Live Forevermore closes out with “Every Hour, Everyday.” Accompanied only by an acoustic guitar, Hoek sings of a friend, a mentor perhaps, whom he greatly admires. He looks up to him not only for his wise words, but his actions too. Whoever he looks up to, you can tell the words come straight from Hoek’s heart and it’s a fitting way to end a remarkable album.
Maurice van Hoek proves with this album that he is an Americana artist you need to hear. Live Forevermore is full of great songs of heartbreak and love, each well arraigned production and instrumentation wise. A big credit not just to Hoek and the band, but engineer and producer Wannes Salomé. Hoek clearly has a knack for songwriting too and he’s only going to get better with time. There’s not a lot of chatter about this album, but there should be and I couldn’t recommend you check it out enough. I can say this is the first artist, not just country or Americana, I’ve heard from the Netherlands. If there’s more artist like this from there, I would love to hear him. Maurice van Hoek proves to be the real deal with his debut album and the best is only yet to come from him.