ALBUM REVIEW: I Am Human, Ilse (Gevaert), Vinyl Records, Out Now from www.ilsemusic.com
When copies of her debut album finally came off the presses, one can only imagine that Belgian-born songstress Ilse Gevaert clutching one close to her chest.
I Am Human has been a three-year project for the New York-based jazz, soul and blues diva whose main message is one of creativity through adversity.
Ilse had every excuse to make I Am Human a quest for acceptance after spending her years having to live without her left arm.
She said: “Every single song on the album is exactly where I wanted it to be and I had this huge smile on my face when the album was finished.
“It was such an amazing process and it was really wonderful to create something where I had all the artistic freedom with the story that I have.
I’m looking to the world and I’m attracted to it, but it turns out to be disappointingIlse Gevaert, singer-songwriter, I Am Human
“Every single song is 100 per cent mine and I’m so glad that I could be so stubborn in doing my thing when so many artists are like puppets in the hands of the record companies.”
But from the opening track, which includes the words “I’ve been through it all, still I stand tall”, listeners can tell this is the album Ilse wanted all along.
With a voice best described as a salad of Madonna, Kate Bush, Robin Beck (The First Time) and Siobhan Facey of Shakespeare’s Sister (who had a numbee one hit with Stay in 1992), I Am Human comes with a sound all of its own.
Ilse said: “Making the album was such an amazing process and I’m really thankful for that because every single song makes you think and makes you reflect.
“The fans are very, very happy with it and social media is working really well, with people starting to discover the album, including my fans in Belgium who are really excited for me.
“There are so many different dimensions and layers to this album because it’s been such a struggle for ten years that I might break the record for the longest journey taken by a new artist.
“All the fans know me as this positive person, but it doesn’t mean that I can’t be hurt when I see what is going on in the world.”
The Michael Jackson-inspired Hollywood Hills and the Beyonce-esque Work It sit alongside manifesto songs like Behind The Scenes. We Rise, We Fall and the crescendo-sounding climix of Oasis.
In the shark-infested world that is popular music, Ilse Gevaert has dared to go it alone with her debut album of 16 tracks.
But Ilse’s courage has been rewarded with support from American singer Mike Posner who reached number one in the UK with I Took a Pill in Ibiza.
“It’s absolutely surreal to have all these memories flash back, even though most people don’t know the stories behind them.
“The record company wanted me to make an album that was catchy, like Hollywood Hills, but I wanted to create something that was real and genuine.
“I didn’t really want to worry about the commercial aspect of I Am Human, even though I did have fun as well, and now Mike Posner is following me on Twitter.
“At the moment, I want to focus on touring Europe and the USA in the summer but I’m also very committed to the artists that I write for.
“A lot of artists have a hard time finding themselves and knowing who they are as people, so I help them because it’s a journey for everyone.
“Of course, I want to be happy but I Am Human and my job in writing songs for a lot of new artists, most of whom aren’t famous, is something that’s stronger than my own will.
“It’s about getting yourself out there and I should know because it’s taken me ten years to do it.”
I Am Human makes you glad to be alive.
Review and interview by Winston Brown
Perfectly armed to take on the music world