MUSIC REVIEW - Perfectly armed to take on the music world

Belgian-born, New York-based singer-songwriter Ilse Gevaert and her forthcoming album I Am Human.  ANL-140804-165114001

Belgian-born, New York-based singer-songwriter Ilse Gevaert and her forthcoming album I Am Human. ANL-140804-165114001

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Naming a famous Belgian used to be a popular quiz question designed to illustrate the relative anonymity of the country and its people.

Naming a famous Belgian used to be a popular quiz question designed to illustrate the relative anonymity of the country and its people.

Ilse Gevaert.  ANL-140804-165131001

Ilse Gevaert. ANL-140804-165131001

Fictional detective Hercule Poirot, actress Audrey Hepburn, painter Rubens and cycling legend Eddy Merckx tend to be the most obvious candidates.

But singer-songwriter Ilse Gevaert could be about to create a musical earthquake not managed by a Belgian since her countryman Adolphe Sax invented the saxophone in 1841.

Her forthcoming album I Am Human could be the best biggest thing to have come out of Belgium after the women’s tennis rivalry between Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters.

But unlike them, the 34-year-old New York-based hit machine prospect hopes to use the time-honoured virtues of love, peace and honesty to promote her music.

Ilse, originally from the Belgian city of Ghent, said: “My songs are very fresh, very modern and yet hugely nostalgic towards the 1960s and 1970s.

“I Am Human is a very simple album, but with a unique arrangement that has a message which goes into the essence of my life.

“It’s been an incredible journey and I could write a book about all the adventures and stories of my life.”

Ilse has the medical condition known as amelia, meaning she was born without her left arm.

But didn’t stop her imagination being fired by music, starting with her parents love for hard rock recorded by the likes of Uriah Heep, Led zeppelin and Black Sabbath.

“I grew up with rock music blasting out of the speakers in my parents’ living room in our house in Belgium,” Ilse said.

“But when I heard soul music, it had so much feeling and now I love to experiment with the 1960s and 1970s.

“For me, it was all about the sound and I feel closer to the people who have a sound that is more dynamic.”

The title song, I Am Human, is a response to the quizzical looks and cruel bullying Ilse experienced growing up, but also an expression of the influences she has been exposed to since moving from Belgium to Brooklyn, New York, seven years ago.

But the real stunner on the album is Living On A Cloud on which Ilse could easily be mistaken for Kylie Minogue singing a high-end title song to a James Bond film.

“I Am Human is a different way to introduce myself because most people start with an up-tempo hit,” Ilse said.

“I do have a couple of songs that are more that way planned for the album, but in my heart I thought that people need some real music to inspire them to be themselves.

“It’s not easy to carve out your own sound and it’s an ongoing journey to create one, especially for someone like me who loves so many different sounds and music artists.”

I Am Human and Living On A Cloud are now available on iTunes or at www.ilsemusic.com

Review by Winston Brown